Texas Cattle Numbers Drop, Drought Partly To Blame

Texas Cattle Numbers Drop, Drought Partly To Blame

Cattle numbers in Texas are still in a down spiral that doesn't seem to have an end.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has revealed the state has lost more than one million cows in the last three years. That's a 22 percent decrease. The owner of Wichita Livestock Billy Easter says several factors are to blame but the drought has really put this industry in hot waters.

"You have to have rain. You can't produce forage without rain and you can't produce cattle without forage," said Easter.

Easter says the higher costs of living and beef production have forced many ranchers to sell off their cattle. Once the drought started in Texoma they began to give up most of their females or heifers and they put the money they got back into their operations to stay afloat.

"Nobody has felt comfortable to replenish their cow herds by keeping heifers so they're selling these instead of keeping them for calves they're selling them to go to the feed locks which goes to the beef production," said Easter.

Ranchers are also having trouble getting consumers to buy meat at higher prices. That's another hit to their wallets.

Easter says, "People look at the grocery store and they see maybe a more of an economic value on other stuff, other things they can eat. They have other choices."

Texoma ranchers agree the beef industry is facing many years of recovery ahead but they need rain now.

"Forage production. As the drought continues forge production costs get higher and higher and then of course the water situation, said Easter.

He also says this crisis will make ranchers more efficient and it will only lead to better beef products but it will take years before consumers see lower meat prices at the grocery store, if that even happens at all.

Tanya De Jesus, Newschannel 6