Ranchers near Hayes, S.D., facing challenges due to dry conditions

Drought

HAYES, S.D. (KELO) – Earlier this week, Zay Norman and his son-in-law, Jake Fanger, moved cattle off a pasture. They say it looks a lot different compared to last year.

“When we pulled off this pasture last year, it looked like we were hardly in it. Right now, like on these hilltops, it’s pretty thin but if you get down in the bottom there, it’s still some pretty decent grass. Zay made the call to pull them off there, and I think that was good because we need to conserve it for some fall grazing,” Fanger said.

Also out here, you’ll notice the stock dams are low, which are typically used as a water source for cattle.

“Our dams have been depleted. It’s just been hot and windy and the dams are getting low. It’s not good; you have to make sure cattle don’t get bogged,” Norman said.

A nearby alfalfa field is also in rough condition.

“I think it was two years ago, we got two cuttings off of it. Last year, we only cut it once. This year, we aren’t going to cut it at all because it’s not worth it,” Fanger said.

Norman says this drought is something you have to work through.

“You’ve got to adapt, so that’s kind of what we are trying to do. Adapt to what’s happening to us. Drought is not fun; it never will be fun,” Norman said.

Both hope for more rain soon or they’ll have to make some tough decisions.

“Like I said we haven’t talked about getting rid of numbers quite yet, but I’m sure it will come up a little later on in the summer to where we’ll have to thin down on some numbers and get them through the winter,” Fanger said.

Norman says they decided to hay their winter wheat. He says they raise a couple hundred acres of spring wheat too, but weren’t able to hay that because it was too short and thin.

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