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Natural Resources & Energy

Stock Growers Selling Livestock Or Shipping Earlier Due To Severe Drought

Cattle drive with black cows and two cowboys riding horses on the prairie, below the mountains
Theo Stein
/
USFWS

Western and much of northeastern Wyoming is dealing with a serious drought this summer, and the dryness and heat are impacting stock growers in the state.

Jim Magagna, the executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, said many livestock owners didn't get the normal growth of forage for their cattle. The little that was there has been drying up.

"We're hearing of people selling off livestock or shipping some of their livestock earlier than usual to deal with the drought situation," said Magagna. "And unfortunately, in some cases, at least, it means reducing their herds in ways that it could be several years before they're able to fully rebuild them."

Magagna said they are reducing their herds because they don't have enough feed for the summer and fall. Hay production is currently down so the price has skyrocketed.

He said it will be difficult for these operations to bounce back to the numbers they had before this year.

"They have genetics that they've used for many years, sometimes building over generations," said Magagna. "And so they don't necessarily just go out and buy some cows next year, they want to rebuild their herds with their own production. And that takes a couple of years to accomplish."

But Magagna said the Association is providing help so that multigenerational farms and ranches can rebuild when conditions hopefully improve.

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