It’s possible the severely dry weather we are experiencing this year, especially up North in the Dakotas and surrounding areas, could potentially impact the size of our mama cow herd as we head towards the new year. Jim Robb of the Livestock Marketing Information Center, recently took a road trip around some of the droughtier areas of the country, for a first-hand look at conditions on the ground.
“We’re really on the cusp of this becoming a nationwide issue,” he said. “The drought really covers central and eastern Montana, most all of North and South Dakota, and it’s drifting down into Nebraska, especially the Northern Sandhills and eastern Wyoming.”
Robb reports the land he covered looked even more droughtier than what is indicated on the Drought Monitor. Some of these areas have been in drought conditions going on two years now, mostly in low rainfall regions, making it a struggle for the land to recover. He notes that 15 percent of all US cattle are currently residing in the drought zone. He says this is beginning to impact marketing patterns - with cull cow numbers picking up, lighter weight calves arriving at markets, and increased movement. To what extent, though, is still up for speculation.
“We’ve seen cow/calf pairs move out of those states in recent months, but really to the point now where there’s a lot of early weaning going on,” Robb stated. “Quite a few more hay trucks heading North out of Wyoming, Colorado and the irrigated parts of Nebraska into those drought areas than I’ve seen in many years.”