Drought Causing Ranchers to Sell Early


Normally this time of year, Kist only has auctions Wednesdays, but thanks to this weather, doors opened yesterday, today, and most likely, again tomorrow. An employee tells me they’re seeing double the heads of livestock they normally would this time of year. 

“It’s dry, no rain. So, a lot of guys are selling their open cows or late cows,” said Mike Haff.

Haff says they’ve been so busy, he has worked almost 40 hours the last couple days. He’s even had to sell some of his own cows at the auction. 

“Nobody’s really smiling. I mean, everybody’s sort of down and out, you know. Every week, and they say if it don’t rain, I’m going to bring another load in next week,” said Haff.

The line to sell cattle behind me stretches all the way to Memorial Highway. Haff says it was like this on Tuesday and they finally ended around midnight. For some of these farmers and ranchers, this is not the first time they’ve been here this season.

“I think this is my third time,” said rancher Patty Erdle.

She makes the trek to Mandan from Hebron. She says it’s so bad because the frost killed the native grass that feeds her cattle.

she added, “Until we get substantial moisture, that grass ain’t going to wake up again and get going. So, right now it don’t look good.”

Erdle doesn’t know what her plan will be if the drought continues. She has never had to deal with something like this. 

“We have not seen it this dry, this early never. And I talked to an older guy, 82, and even he says he never remembers a spring this severe,” said Erdle.

Mike Haff says even a few inches of rain could make a world of difference for him and other farmers and ranchers across the state.  

State Ag commissioner Doug Goehring says ranchers who need hay, those with hay to sell, or those looking to rent pasture or hay land should call the Ag Department at 701-425-8454.

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