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Drought conditions force local ranchers to sell their cattle

By Ariana Jaso

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    AROMAS, California (KSBW) — With 85% of California being in an extreme drought, many cattle ranchers are facing some tough decisions — to keep or sell their cattle.

On Friday, the cows at Three Star Ranch Station were moved to a new location. Since there’s too many cows and just not enough water.

Keeping them fed and hydrated isn’t easy.

“Due to the lack of rainfall during the rainy season, it’s going to be a very long summer. And we’re biting our fingernails. Each cow drinks 20 gallons of water daily,” said Mark Farr, owner of Corral de Tierra Cattle Co.

Forcing ranchers to sell their cattle.

“Normally, I would retain a few calves to finish on the grass and harvest for beef. But unfortunately, with the drought this year, we sold everything in a conventional market,” said Farr.

“So the cost to keep the cows gets almost prohibited and selling them in most cases is a better option than feeding high-priced hay,” said Jim Warren, owner of 101 Livestock Market.

With the high increase in people selling, looking for people to buy is now a problem too.

“We do have a lot of liquidation that means we have to go farther away, other places where people have feed and get those people to come here and buy cattle and it’s been kind of a pool because a lot of places in the country are dry,” said Warren.

Ranchers say they’re selling to places as far as Nebraska and Wyoming.

“Everywhere we normally went, Oregon, Idaho, places we would normally sell cattle those places were dry so we had to reach out farther and we’re sending these cattle farther than we’ve ever had to send them in the past,” said Warren.

From lacking good nutrition to having trouble breeding, a severe drought that’s causing many challenges.

“We had probably three times the amount of mother cows not become pregnant in their time frame and so that’s because their nutrition was lacking to re-breed and so it’s going to affect us very much economically there,” said Farr.

And consumers and cattle ranchers face the brunt of it all.

“The meat in the stores has been going up but the reality is the people producing the cattle aren’t getting any of it. The people in the store are paying a big price but the ranchers just aren’t getting any of it,” said Warren.

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