We haven't experienced a drought like this in decades, and it is hurting farmers and ranchers all over Texoma. Without rain to water the land, ranchers are struggling to feed their cattle. And they're running out of water supply to provide to them. Conditions are so extreme, farmers and ranchers are being forced to sell their cattle.
Wichita Falls Livestock Dealer Warren Reid says in the summertime it's typical to see about 1,200 cattle sold per week. But this year, they're running 3,000. That's more than double the amount. Reid says, "It's a pretty severe drought. We haven't had any rain here since October. And it has affected the ranching and farming." He says the drought is affecting farmers and ranchers in more ways than one.
Reid says, "We've got tanks going dry. We lost spring grass growth that we usually have, sustains our herds through the year." He says right now ranchers and farmers are striving to keep their cattle. He says the drought has caused the grass to stop growing which means less food for cows; and therefore making them thinner and weaker.
Reid says, "They are pulling these calves light, so that they can get their cows in shape for the winter time." He says they are pulling calves away from cows so they don't feed off them and make them even weaker. They're even selling calves at a younger age than normal and that are lighter in weight.
Reid says, "If it doesn't change pretty quick, it'll start affecting our fall wheat planting, and that crop. And rely a lot on it for grazing in the winter time for our calves. So it's pretty devastating." So far there haven't been whole herd liquidations. But Reid says if the conditions continue, it could happen.
Although the drought is bringing severe struggles, there is one positive ranchers can count on. The market is high right now, and buyers are coming in from as far as Nebraska and Kansas to purchase beef. Livestock auctions are held at 9:00am on Wednesdays at Wichita Livestock on Jacksboro Highway.