The hottest year on record and the worst drought in a generation has ranchers across America switching to Plan B – early weaning, culling, feeding hay or shipping cattle early. Some ranchers in areas hardest hit by drought are forced to sell their entire herds.
The increase in cattle receipts at auction markets has also driven prices lower, compounding the losses from Mother Nature’s wrath.
“We’re seeing larger runs of cattle than normal, and a lot of small calves,” says Mark Harmon, Joplin Regional Stockyards, Joplin, Mo. “The price of calves is about $20 (per hundredweight) cheaper than it was in mid-June.” Heavier runs of cull cows are also occurring, but Harmon says cow prices are off only a few dollars per hundredweight.