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Drought Impacting Saskatchewan's Cattle Market

The lack of precipitation across Saskatchewan has begun to affect the cattle market.

Prices have been slipping mostly in the southern part of Saskatchewan for the last few weeks now and without some major rainfall or an influx in feed, the rest of the summer or fall could be worse.

"A big portion of this province is drought significant," Donnie Peacock, an auctioneer at Swift Current's Heartland Livestock, said. "If it doesn't change we could see one of the most major selloffs of cowherds this fall that I've seen in my lifetime, and I've been around a while."

While some producers might think this is the perfect time to add some livestock at below-average pricing, Peacock worried about that too.

"Where are people going to go with these cows," he said. "My fear is if feed hay is unavailable to buy or north of $200 per ton, will these cows just come to town, sell and then just go to the packer buyers. It could be really serious, our Saskatchewan cowherd could be in jeopardy of dropping major numbers and I don't think it will ever bounce back if it does."

It isn't all doom and gloom, however, as the replacement heifers are yielding good returns.

"So far they're very strong," he said. "We've had some very good 8-weight black bronco heifers trading from, by the pound for the feeder market, $1,420 to $1,520 a head."

Peacock added that the market will remain on the edge of the cliff until it's known if some feed will become available.

"Maybe if there are some crops wrote off by crop insurance and turned into feed that might possibly work to save a cowherd," he said.

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