Friday, March 03, 2017

Nearly 20 percent of US cattle herd in areas with tough drought conditions

Roughly one-fifth of the U.S. cattle inventory is within areas facing drought, including dire conditions that have led some livestock producers to sell off herds early due to the lack of hay. Some ranchers in parched areas of the Central Plains and Southern regions have relocated cattle herds to lands with greener pastures or where water is more available. "We're just hoping for the rain to come and make it to the next cycle," said Monte Tucker, who runs a farming and ranching operation in Sweetwater, Oklahoma. A Great Plains drought from 2011-2013 led to a herd liquidation phase of the cattle cycle, eventually resulting in the lowest U.S. cattle levels since the early 1950s. Cattle prices rose to lofty levels after the cow supply fell but the herd rebuilding phase has been underway for several years, pressuring prices. As a result, cow-calf producers such as Tucker — those operators breeding cattle with plans to sell the offspring to feedlots — are getting squeezed with lower prices than they were getting just a few years ago. He also grows wheat and said the business is generally tougher for farmers due to the rising costs of equipment, fertilizers and other needed agricultural inputs...more

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