Trying to Hang on to Cattle

Past the Scramble for Feed, North Dakota Cattle Producers in Drought Weigh Options


By Chris Clayton, DTN/Progressive Farmer



DICKINSON, N.D. (DTN) -- After some of the busiest months in recent memory, at least a few North Dakota sale barns this week saw fewer sales of cull cows and bulls.


As North Dakota comes out of one of the hottest, driest Junes on record, livestock producers are looking for any type of feed to hold on to their cows and calves -- at least until the calves are weaned. Their challenge with the drought is pastures have dried up, and they have already eaten away at their hay and feed reserves. And they are about to face another stretch of temperatures in the upper 90s over the next week or longer.


Hay was already short going into last winter. As spring arrived, producers continued hanging on, waiting for rains and grass, depleting any hay reserves they may have had in the process. When pastures didn't recharge, they started to consider options such as selling. With much of the western half of the country in drought conditions, similar scenarios are playing out for cattle producers in Montana, Colorado, South Dakota and farther west…








Producers are looking for ways to hold on to as much of their herds as possible. Shane Sickler of Gladstone, North Dakota, said he came through winter with zero moisture in his fields. Most rains have been small, but winds didn't help. "That wind just takes all the moisture out of everything."


Sickler sold about 30% of his cow herd this spring but is trying to keep his younger cattle. "Were stocking them about half their normal numbers because the pasture is so bad," Sickler said.


Adam Lee runs 125 Angus cow-calf pairs near Plaza, North Dakota, but he expects he will be down…


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