KOTA Territory ranchers reflect on 2012 drought - KOTA Territory News

KOTA Territory ranchers reflect on 2012 drought

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Ranching and farming is more of a way of life than a job. "Sure a lot easier when it rains," said Rancher Chris Grubl.

The Grubl family has farmed and ranched their land east of Sturgis since it was homesteaded in 1892, and Chris Grubl has seen his share of droughts, but this year was different. "It seemed like it was a lot hotter through most of the summer and anytime that happens it takes away from your water supply," said Grubl.

No water means less hay. "We put up about 10% of the hay we did in 2011," said Grubl.

His son Lucas says the summer was pretty depressing. "You know you sit out in a field and you know last year you wrote down in the book when you were bailing that you got 250 bales in this field and then you get 25 the next year," said Lucas.

Less hay means less feed for cattle. "Feed availability has been a challenge," said SDSU Extension Cow Calf Field Specialist Adele Harty.

She says because of the drought, a lot of ranchers have culled some of their cattle. "They had to go in and determine those cows that were performing the poorest and send them down the road because they didn't have the resources to feed them," said Harty.

And during a drought buying hay and feed isn't cheap. "Typically it makes up about 60% of your total cow cost for the year is strictly feed so when feed costs are extremely high it increases that overall cow cost a lot," said Harty.

She says most ranchers are paying more than $2.50 per cow per day just in feed.

"Just like anything has to adapt you got to adapt to your climate if something changes, dries up well you got to do something to make it work," said Grubl's Eldest son Adam.

And that's exactly what ranchers have done this year, but next year they hope they won't have to.

"Had an old neighbor one time told me this is good next year country so I guess that's what we have to look forward to," said Grubl.

The Grubl's also farm wheat and they said this year's crop was good because there was moisture left in the soil from 2011, but Chris says if the drought continues it will be a whole different ball game.

According to the federal government the drought in Wyoming is on track to be the driest in the last 118 years.

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