Friday, February 07, 2014

Arizona drought forcing ranchers to sell cattle

Ongoing drought conditions are forcing cattle ranchers to sell off part of their herds early. Nearly one million head of cattle in Arizona makes for big business, especially in Pinal County, one of the top counties in the U.S. when it comes to cattle sales. A normal cattle auction in February at the Marana Stockyards sells off around 500 head of cattle, but due to drought conditions they've seen nearly double that number. Ruben Rivera, a cattle rancher from Globe, Arizona, was one of the many in town Thursday to unload cattle to be auctioned off. He says the lack of water on his land is making it hard to keep his herd healthy. "I think it's going to become a problem not only for us but for everyone up there. Everyone is running dry right now," explains Rivera. As drought conditions drag on the natural pasture that cattlemen depend on is unavailable forcing them to supplement with expensive feed. Clay Parsons with Marana Stockyards says this is one of the main reasons he has seen an increase in numbers at his auctions. Parsons says, "We can't feed our cattle year round hay. It's too expensive and too cost prohibitive. We have to sell the cows." According to Parsons, Central Arizona ranchers are selling off about 20% of their herds, but if it doesn't rain soon they will be forced to sell even more...more

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