Thousands of cattle are being sold off by Texas ranchers as the summer drought causes grass and water to diminish.
“According to the drought monitors from last week, 97% of Texas is in some stage of drought,” Texas Farm Bureau’s Tracy Tomascik told CBS News. “It’s culminated into an unfortunate set of circumstances that farmers and ranchers are having to deal with.”
A report issued by the USDA on Monday revealed that 83% of pasture and range land is currently described as being in poor to very poor condition.
Videos of trucks and trailers lined up outside livestock markets circulated on social media on Saturday and Sunday.
Bryan Forester of Emory Livestock Auctions noted that ranchers are reducing their herds due to several issues besides the drought.
“Drought, fertilizer prices, hay prices, lack of water. Lot of different things factoring in right now,” he stated.
Cattle owner Lee McLachlin said a bale of hay is now over $100. Even a decent rain at this point would not do much to immediately restore the grass, making it harder for him to hold off selling his own cows, he said.
Due to the lack of precipitation and the high temperatures, the grass has stopped growing. Grasshoppers have reportedly been destroying what is available in several counties, and additionally, water levels in stock ponds are now beginning to decline.
Owner Kimberly Irwin of the Decatur Livestock Market reported that over 2,600 animals were unloaded from trucks lined up on the road a mile in both directions. They have not seen these massive numbers since a severe drought in 2011.
The majority of the cows being sold are older, according to Irwin, with the owners planning to manage with just their younger cattle until circumstances change.