Thursday, May 31, 2018

Arizona ranchers reducing herds, seeking disaster relief in face of drought

The owners of Broken Horn D Ranch in Prescott have already taken drastic measures this drought-stricken year just to make ends meet. The local ranch raises grass-fed Criollo cattle and sells most of it directly to the consumer at venues such as the Prescott Farmers Market. But as grasses have dried up, so has much of their herd. “We are fairly consistent in our ability to maintain through dryer times, but this drought has been so long and so severe, that we’re down 30 to 40 percent,” said Dave Pawel, Jr., who owns and runs the ranch with his wife, Kim McElroy. “The cattle just flat don’t have enough to eat, so we either have to move them or get rid of them,” Normally sitting at about 250 head of cattle, the ranchers are currently handling about 150. “And that may go less,” Pawel said. In moderately tough times, ranchers like Pawel and McElroy can typically afford enough hay to make up for what their cattle aren’t getting in the fields, but since just about every rancher in the southwest is in the same boat, the price of hay has gone up drastically. “High demand, low supply,” Pawel said. Also hurting their bottom line is a saturation in the cattle selling market. As more and more ranchers turn to reducing their herds, basic economics once again come in to play. “We don’t normally have to sell at a local auction barn, but because we have to and everybody else has to, the prices are super low,” Pawel said...MORE

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