Drought drives up the number of cattle at auction - KOTA Territory News

Drought drives up the number of cattle at auction


As the drought drives record feed prices many ranchers are forced to sell off their herds to make it through the winter months.

More than nine thousand cattle are up for auction in Belle Fourche, thanks in most part to the drought.

But the full impact of this year's drought has only begun to show.

"There's no grass and no water. There's no feed for the winter, it's hard to find and if you do find it, it's expensive," said Rancher Paul Luchsinger.

Luchsinger hopes to sell all of his yearling to help make it through the winter.

A move many ranchers made, to make this sale the largest the Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange ever hosted; with more than nine thousand cattle up for grabs.

"A lot of people didn't sell because they didn't know how long they could keep them. This time of year they got to get them off and move them out of grass and out of water", said Dean Strong, owner of the Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange.

Despite the lack of food and water, Strong says the cattle look healthy.

"Most of them the hair looks good, they'll be a little lighter than normal, most of them, but yea for the most part for what they've been through they look good," said Strong.

And more good news  ... for ranchers, right now they're selling for good money.

"Yearlings have been bringing in 1.27 through 1.40," said Strong.

"In the past, usually when there's a drought, the price usually kicks you in the butt. But this time the droughts bad but the prices are good, so that's a good thing," said Luchsinger.

But experts predict those prices won't hold for long, as more cattle flood the market the value of calves and feeder cattle continues to drop.

"That's the nature of the cattle business. You can't predict nothing so you just base it on what it's doing today," said Luchsinger.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's midyear cattle inventory report shows beef cow numbers dropped three percent in the last year.

But experts say for those producers who are able to weather the financial storm and hold onto their herds, prices should rebound as early as late 2013.


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