Drought is a dilemma that no cattleman can escape.
I think there’s something particularly cruel about drought, because it works its damage in such an extended time frame. I spoke this week to a young producer who had purchased cows and grass and had made his first real big leap in the business.
His timing looked good and he had written the first big checks for leasing pasture land. The problem is that if it doesn’t rain in the next two weeks, he will have to pull cattle off all that grass he leased and start liquidating. He can survive the cow liquidation portion, but will likely not be able to recover from leasing grass he will never use.
Already in that country, the marginal cows have been sorted off and are heading to town. Plans are being made for early weaning and other ways to extend the grazing season. And with hay prices at historically high levels, the decision on whether to feed or sell has already been made for most producers. As one rancher told me, every decision has already been made. There are just two questions – will it rain, and how long can I wait to find out.