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Published July 25, 2012, 08:04 PM

Cows being sold sooner because of drought

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- One more thing now being affected by the drought: cattle farmers. More and more are being forced to sell their cows early, and without more rain those numbers could skyrocket.

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- One more thing now being affected by the drought: cattle farmers. More and more are being forced to sell their cows early, and without more rain those numbers could skyrocket.

Rancher Kent Oland is here at Central Livestock in West Fargo selling a few of his cattle. He says the rain we had last night kept him from putting more up for sale.

Kent Oland – Sheldon, Cattle Farmer: "If it gets dry, any drier, then people start culling their cows. They'll take their older cows first, and then any cow that isn't a good producer."

With the cost of almost everything up like feed, keeping the animals will soon become too expensive.

Kent Oland: "The grass is getting shorter, and like where we live like in the sand it's like dormant, just like it would be in November."

The cost of hay has nearly doubled in the last year, and the bi-products from ethanol plants are up from $15 to $40 and they're going up.

Kent Oland: "The hay is going to be the big issue. There is going to be a big shortage of hay, and any other feed."

There are about 200 cows in today's auction, but Central Livestock Association Officials say if the rain does not fall that number could jump by nearly 100.

Mike Hilde – Branch Manager: "If it continues to stay dry, I think we will see some yearlings coming early or maybe some liquidation of some poorly doing cows."

Central Livestock Branch Manager Mike Hilde says on top of the lack of feed and dropping cattle prices.

Mike Hilde: "It's probably $10 to $12 off what it was five weeks ago."

The hot and dry weather also means less reproduction, which means beef prices will also be on the rise as a result.

Mike Hilde: "Well ultimately the cow numbers are the lowest they've been in 60 years and, so there is just less of them."

If the skies don't open soon, cattle auctions could become flooded with anxious ranchers looking to take a small loss now, rather than a bigger hit later on.

They've had to double the number of auctions in states like Kansas and Wyoming.

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