According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, all of North Dakota is experiencing drought, with the heart of the state falling under the D4 drought category — the worst you can be in.
With North Dakota starved for water, this is having negative impacts on a number of industries.
Around 100,000 extra head are on the market this year compared to last year.
This is causing some livestock auctions, such as Kist in Mandan, to ramp up their operations this summer.
Normally, Kist Livestock has one auction per month throughout the summer. But this year, they’re running two auctions per week.
Matt Lachenmeier, the livestock marketing manager at Kist, said, “As of today, we’re roughly 50% above where we are on a normal year.”
The drought has negatively affected the price of bred stock and calves that are meant to be sold in October, will be light.
However, other livestock, such as weigh-up cows, are selling for about $10-13 more than last year.
Lachenmeier said, “We’ve seen a really good weigh-up cow market right now, and that’s getting some of these producers to take advantage and sell some of those cows.
This is leading some ranchers, like Jeremy Strommen, to have a sense of optimism.
“They’ve actually been getting decent prices. I heard the other day somebody got $2.30 a pound for theirs,” said Strommen.
With the increasing costs of feed, those trying to carry their calves until mid-fall may spend more on feed than they would make off the actual calf.
Some ranchers have weened their calves early, as nursing livestock requires more feed to get the nutrients a cow needs.
As the drought situation continues into late summer., many ranchers are hoping for a much different winter than we had last year.
“I don’t know that there’s a single rancher out there that’s not praying for a bunch of snow this winter,” said Strommen.
Some ranchers are saying that now is the perfect time to cull the herd.