Drought hits cattle industry

GARDEN CITY, Kansas – The country’s cattle herd is shrinking because of the drought.  Cattle raised on the range suffer, because they don’t have water or grass to graze on, so farmers sell them as quickly as possible.  Because so many cattle have gone to slaughter ahead of schedule, there is a shortage and that’s led to record high cattle prices.

“When the supply’s low the price goes up because there’s a lot of competition for the animals,” said Brian Price, the manager at Brookover Feedlot in Garden City.

The drought impacts the cattle industry in another way too.  The cows can handle the summer heat, but feedlot farmers worry about the corn crop, because that’s what they rely on to feed thousands of head of cattle every day.

Brookover Feed Farm has 30,000 cattle and they use 7-8,000 bushels of corn a day.  “It’s gotten very expensive and it takes a lot of money to operate when things cost that much,” Price said.

Packing plants bid on the cattle, so the feedlots don’t pass that cost on, but the shortage does cause prices to rise.

“We have to go up on our percentages, accordingly,” said owner of Ron’s Market, Ron Leonard. “You have to be good in the market, you have to go out and hunt in order to give your customers the best service and the best price.”

The price increase will continue on for a couple months even after the shortage ends, because it takes so long for farmers to raise new calves to market weight.

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