Drought Hammers Hay Stocks

Local News

Big rains of recent weeks have diminished the drought in the state.
But in some cases, those rains came too late to avoid some costly problems.
As Jim Olson reports from Rugby, some ranchers are finding it hard to keep cattle fed.

The Hoffart ranch has been on this Pierce County land for four decades.

(Richard Hoffart, Pierce Co. Rancher) “We’ve been ranching here since ’78.”

But Richard Hoffart wonders what he’ll have left after another year of extremely dry weather.

(Richard Hoffart, Pierce Co. Rancher) “These last three years have really been tough – we haven’t been getting the rains and we’ve been drying up. Every year’s getting progressively worse.”

Recent rain in the area helps in the future – but not with this year’s hay crop – its yield was determined long before the rain came.

(Richard Hoffart, Pierce Co. Rancher) “This field usually when we cut it we get 50-60 bales here. This year we got about 25 off it.”
(Yolanda Schmidt, Pierce Co. NDSU Agent) “When we see this many years of maybe overgrazing and stress conditions we’re going to see an invasion of weeds, less grass production, and eventually producers are going to have to sell down cows.”
(Kevin Heilman, Rugby Livestock Owner) “Sales are bigger than last year for sure

That’s Kevin Heilman of Rugby Livestock. His business is booming – but only because ranchers are having to sell off cattle to make dwindling feedstocks last the coming winter.

(Kevin Heilman, Rugby Livestock Owner) “They’ve built these herds up – you hate to see them have to sell off what they’ve worked for years to build up. So yes, it is sad to see it happen.”
(Shane Anderson, Pierce Co. Rancher) “We maybe have too many cows.”

Shane Anderson ranches nearby too – and says the weak pasture production means cattle will be back on hay way too soon.

(Shane Anderson, Pierce Co. Rancher) “Grazing is going to be done about a month earlier than usual.” “So then they’re back on hay?” “Then they’re back on hay or you’re looking at some other options like early weaning of some calves.”
(Richard Hoffart, Pierce Co. Rancher) “The situation now is, we’re going to have to sell maybe half the cows or better the way the hay situation is right now.

Putting him perilously close to an end no one around here wants to see.

In Pierce County, Jim Olson, KX News.

Rancher Richard Hoffart says all told, he’ll probably put up about half as much hay this fall as in a normal year.

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