Continued drought is impacting ranchers and their livelihood

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We continue our coverage on how the drought is impacting people’s industries across the state.
Ranchers are among those affected.

“It’s hard to get up in there in the morning and not see no rain, but basically what we’re doing is banking on hope,” said David Bohl, a rancher at Bull Ranch.

Bohl has been a rancher all his life in Wolford.

He says it’s been more than 30 years since he’s experienced drought conditions like this.

The lack of moisture from last fall, winter and now spring could be dangerous

“If we don’t get moisture in May and June, we know that we are going to have less than 50% of the normal production on the grasses for our livestock,” said Paige Brummund, an agent at NDSU.

Brummund is an agent with the NDSU Extension Center.

She says although things are starting to green up out there, it’s still too early to turn cows out to the pasture.

“People get tempted this time of year because it’s green now so it must be time to let them out and it’s not,” Brummund said.

Turning them out too early doesn’t allow for the grass to grow faster than the cows can eat it. And if it never greens up…

“We don’t get to turn the cows out because there won’t be nothing out there for them to eat,” Bohl said.

Ranchers can give their livestock supplemental feed like corn or hay but Bohl says those aren’t sustainable for the long run.

“Right now it cost about $1.30 if you’re buying corn, cost about $1.30 to put a pound of grain on a calf right now. And we’re only getting probably $1.25 right now for cattle right now. So we’re losing money on them in feeding them,” Bohl added.

And if the rain doesn’t come soon, Bohl says he’ll have to do something he’s trying to avoid at all costs.

“If we don’t get rain within two weeks or so, we’re going to have to be forced to sell cattle,” Bohl said.

So far, he’s already had to sell 80 head.

Brummund encourages farmers and ranchers to send her any drought reports and pictures they have every week. She says it helps give a more accurate analysis and can help officials determine the county’s drought.

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