Texas ranchers are trying to rebuild their cattle herds after a long, devastating drought.
After a dispiriting stretch of years, many Texas ranchers are more optimistic these days, as drought, expensive feed and other conditions that decimated their cattle herds have begun to loosen their grip. But rebuilding their herds will be neither cheap nor a short-term process, even in the nation's top cattle-producing state.
Texas lost 15% of its cattle -- or about 2 million animals -- between January 2011 and January 2013, as ranchers sold them to out-of-state buyers or sent them to slaughter amid an unrelenting drought. That helped the size of the U.S. herd drop to 89.3 million head, the lowest level since the 1950s.
Many ranchers are now interested in starting to rebuild, eyeing improving beef markets. But they're relying on several variables, the most important being reliable pastures, said Eldon White, executive vice president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
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