September 24, 2011
2011 has been a less than forgiving year for US residents as severe weather has caused hundreds of deaths, billions of dollars in losses, and destroyed homes, land, roads, and buildings. Throughout the US, tornadoes, fires, heavy rain or a lack thereof, and excruciatingly warm or cold temperatures have wreaked havoc on the livelihoods of many.
In Oklahoma, ranchers are continuing to face severe droughts, forcing them to make difficult decisions concerning the 1.8 million head of cattle in the state. With a lack of water filling nearby streams, fields go un-watered and cattle go hungry.
Despite the lack of foliage for the cattle, some farmers have resorted to using lick blocks which offer the cattle diets of protein, minerals, and vitamins. The Glover Cattle Company
is using SweetPro Feeds lick blocks to sustain the cattle for the time being. However, sales of high-grade cattle have increased for Glover.
Oklahoma ranchers, like Glover, have spent 25 years developing the best beef traits among their cattle. Much of their work will be lost due to the drought but selling their prized breeding cattle is a better option than seeing them suffer the effects of a dry season.
The sale barns for Glover Cattle Company sell an average of 2,000 cattle per week. Usually, these cattle are older or less desirable. Yet, due to the drought, Glover Cattle Co. has been selling their best cattle and the number being sold each week has soared between 5,000 and 6,500.
Regardless of when the drought ends, the repercussions will be seen throughout the year.
"This Fall, you might see only 500 head going through that sale barn per week instead of the 2,000 you'd see normally. There will be a cattle shortage," Glover told the Digital Journal.
If the shortage Glover has predicted occurs, that will have a ripple effect on the consumers. "You could see prices $25 to $30 more per 100 weight by next Spring because of the shortage. It'll take several years for this to get back to normal," he continued.
For those of you who are not ranchers, you might ask, why dont they deliver the supplies they need? "You can haul feed and hay, but not water," Glover said. "It'll take 8 to 10 inches of rain to have enough water to get the creeks and ponds going. We definitely need water in the next 60 to 90 days.
The amount of water needed would be impossible to transport, especially with a drought affecting the entire South.
Additionally, Glover stated that even a drop in temperature would help. Oklahomas summer has stayed in the high 80s to mid 90s with little relief, even hitting a high of 110 degrees. Due to the increased transportation and sale of cattle, some have died as a result of the scorching heat.
Supplemental diets are sustaining the cattle for now and Glover commented that although they are in excellent health, it cant sustain them forever. While selling the best-bred cattle is a last resort, ranchers realize extreme measures must be taken to ensure their livelihoods. All they can do is hope for rain in the near future and continue to survive