Continuing drought takes toll on South Dakota cattle producers

SOUTH DAKOTA - Some areas in western South Dakota are nearly 2 feet below normal precipitation in a six-year drought that keeps cattle producers in a "what if" predicament, the Rapid City Journal reported.
calendar icon 10 January 2007
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The sell-off of cattle because of water and feed shortages continues. Dr. Sam Holland, the state veterinarian and head of the South Dakota Animal Industry Board, said the primary drought zone is from the Missouri River west to the Black Hills.

Cattle sales from May 1 to Sept. 1, 2005, at auction barns in the drought  zone totaled 132,000 head. This year, during the same period, sales increased 98% to 262,000 head, Holland said.

Curt Olson, manager of St. Onge Livestock, estimates that the West River cow herd is 25% to 35% smaller than it was six years ago. "In some areas, it's maybe 50% smaller," Olson told the newspaper.

With the high cost of hay, many people are trimming their cow herds further this winter, Olson said. "They need to be restocking, but they just can't do it."

Source: Agriculture Online

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