Northern North Dakota cow-calf ranchers make fall moves against drought

Drought has significantly affected cattle producers in the northern part of North Dakota. They’re getting more rain now, but a Devils Lake, North Dakota, sale barn saw twice the number of summer culling, and calf-dependent ranchers in western counties near Towner, North Dakota, are scrambling for winter feed.


By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek (ND)

Sep. 13, 2021


TOWNER, North Dakota — Recent rains have made drought-stricken northern North Dakota cattlemen a bit more confident about keeping cattle, but many are still making countermoves — travelling farther-afield to find feed. Sale barns in the region are seeing higher numbers of liquidations.


Jeff Kuntz, 48, is a rancher from Towner, North Dakota, On Sept. 1, 2021, Kuntz was cutting a “droughted-out” field of corn about 40 miles of his west, near the town of Norwich, North Dakota, to use for livestock forage in the winter. Kuntz in the next week put the corn into stover bales.


On another corn field he used a friend’s silage cutter and put it in a pile to haul it at a later date.


After a devastating drought, the Kuntz Ranch picked up about 5 inches of rain in late August. Kuntz was looking at turning cows into corn fields on his own ranch that have been zeroed-out for crop insurance. Kuntz hopes that gets him to early October, when he’ll decide whether to wean calves early to preserve his cow herd.


Kuntz Ranch usually runs about 300 cows. Jeff and his wife Jessica, who works as an agronomist for Dakota Agronomy at Bottineau, North Dakota, own about 2,200 acres. They raise crops on 300 farmland acres, where they grow oats, barley and corn, mostly for cattle feed.


In the first week of June 2021, the Kuntzes sold about 140 of their 300 cow-calf pairs...


Blessings ...   


A ‘break’ for some ... 


Drought isn’t done ...