Tripp County rancher hopeful but preparing to sell cattle due to drought


TRIPP COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — A Tripp County rancher is staying positive and hopeful when it comes to the drought. But he is also preparing for the worst.

Right now ranchers are still in a holding pattern, as they wait to see how much worse the drought will get.

Wyatt DeJong runs cattle just outside of Kennebec. His land runs right along the Tripp County border with Lyman County. The former school teacher says when the rain came to a screeching halt most of his stock dams dried up.

He’s been hauling water to his cattle and opening up land along White River to let the cattle drink. DeJong says there is always hope the weather will turn around but they are preparing for continued drought.

“We’ve seen it in years where it will start ramping up with rain hopefully, lord willing if that’s the case then we will be able to keep a few. But we’re definitely looking at selling down our numbers a little bit and tighten up our management of them,” said DeJong.

Another complication the drought brings to ranchers is when to sell.

Sell too soon and they lose… Sell too late and they lose. As other ranchers reach the tipping point and start selling, prices for cattle will drop.

“If this drought wasn’t quite so widespread it would maybe be a little bit different thing to where you won’t see the market numbers quite be impacted but because it hits several states and huge area. Yeah, cattle prices are going to be down quite a bit when we are looking at selling this year,” said DeJong.

Because of the lack of moisture pastures are sparse and the hay crop is thinner than usual. DeJong says on his ranch they will also look at weaning calves earlier to take stress off the momma cows so they have more time to recuperate going into the fall and winter.

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