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Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016

Local ranchers forced to sell cattle due to drought

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The drought in Oregon County and surrounding areas has increased business at the Ozark Regional Stockyard in West Plains, as farmers in the area have been forced to sell cattle because of the dry conditions.

The Regional Stockyard, has seen record amounts of cattle being sold this summer. The scorching temperatures, dry land, lack of feed and the high prices of feed have left many farmers with no choice but to sell their cattle.

The sell-off is attracting buyers from several different states across the US. They know about the drought Missouri is experiencing and the hardship that the area farmers are experiencing. An Ozark Regional Stockyard manager said, "There are cattle going to Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and even New Mexico. We have never had as many buyers from Texas or Oklahoma, like we do now." These buyers are using the local farmers' need to sell to their advantage, in order to build the quality of their cattle.

On Monday, July 9, the stockyard began a special sale that lasted until Tuesday, July 10. On the first day, there were approximately 3,100 head of cattle sold. The next day, a specific sale for calves resulted in 3,300 calves being sold. The special sale had no effect on the normal weekly sale, the following day. That Wednesday, 1,500 head of cattle were sold.

The Ozark Regional Stockyard manager told The South Missourian News that people are having to sell cows that they normally wouldn't. "Each week, the quality of the cows is getting better and better because they can't afford to feed them." The average amount of cattle sold on a weekly basis, this time of the year, is 600 to 800 head. This year, the stockyard is seeing a weekly average of approximately 1,600, two times the average number.

On Wednesday, Aug. 4 -- the most recent sale -- there were 3,900 head sold, which is up 200 from the week before, and 2,350 more than what was recorded at this time last year. High corn and hay prices are continuing to force farmers to sell, even though many worry about how they will ever afford to rebuild their herds.

When asked if the stockyard was planning another 'special sale,' the manager replied, "Not at this time, we may later on down the road." Farmers that attend the weekly sale feel that things will turn around, but the time frame is in the air, which results reluctant selling.

Farmers are getting more creative as they look for ways to feed their cattle, before selling out. A local farmer from the Wirth, Ark., area put out approximately 200 acres of corn this year, which didn't grow due to lack of rain.

He is trying to lessen the loss by bailing his corn and feeding it to his cattle.

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