Local News

Drought Putting Cattle Farmers in Bind

Posted October 12, 2007

— The drought is forcing North Carolina farmers to sell off their cattle.

The livestock industry is worth millions of dollars to the state economy. However, with grass dying and hay wilting in the fields, farmers cannot afford to feed their herds.

“It's so dry, the grass won't grow,” said Sampson County farmer Oliver Faircloth.

The drought has forced farmers to bring their cattle to market earlier than usual and settle for a cut in profits.

“A lot of folks have to sell their calves because they don't have the hay or the grass, but the prices are holding right good considering how many they're putting on the market," said Wake County farmer Coy Duke.

“If you have five cows and you get $300 to $500 for a calf, that beats any beans, corn or anything you can plant,” Faircloth said.

It has been a busy summer for Powell Livestock Co. in Johnston County.

“They don't have grass. They don't have water. They have to let them go for whatever they can bring," said Elma Baker, with Powell Livestock.

Baker said there is concern that with so many cattle being auctioned early, business could really slow come spring.

“A lot of the cows being sold are the breeding cows, the momma cows,” said Baker. “In the foreseeable future, it makes for a possible shortage.”

Many of the farmers with whom WRAL talked said they are going to try to hold on to their remaining cattle and get through this year's dry spell.

"It will stock back up whenever rain comes, whenever that is," Faircloth said.

Officials said the price of hay has more than doubled and without any rain, it could be a tough spring for farmers.


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  • richard2 Oct 13, 2007

    I thought NC quit farming cows and crops and had started growing houses. New houses is the only thing I see springing up, and they need water too, so there must not be a drought.

  • PHSYCO-SMURF-CHOKER Oct 12, 2007

    cheap steak for all, but it's a little dry.

  • lynddsy Oct 12, 2007

    this unfortuantly will drive the price the farmers can get for the cattle that HAVE to sell. consumers might benefit right now but, then what.

  • electriceye Oct 12, 2007

    So will hamburgers taster drier now?

  • k9sandQtrs Oct 12, 2007

    oops! I should have been more specific about whether hay cubes would be a viable alternative for cattle farmers. Since I'm not running a business and do not have a bottom line to worry about, the price that I have to pay isn't as crucial (it still pinches!) as it would be to a farmer. I did consider the cubes for my own horses, but ended up finding some hay. the cubes do make good horse treats, though!

  • doodad Oct 12, 2007

    68-polara, if you are using a complete feed, the fiber in the pelleted feed should be higher for goats as well. What irks me about goats is some of them turn their noses up when their hay or feed spills on the ground. Goats have great personalities!

  • 68_polara Oct 12, 2007

    They can be fed almost anything as long as they have plenty of fiber.

    Man, I need to read my posts before submitting them!

  • 68_polara Oct 12, 2007

    Yea, being that my goats are ruminants I have it easy. They can be fed almost anything as long at the have plenty of fiber. Well, and an occasional deworming. But they will nearly attack you for peanuts!

  • doodad Oct 12, 2007

    I assumed k9sandQrts is someone that has horses (Qrts for Quarter horses) and alfalfa cubes are generally sold as horse hay substitutes, however they can be fed to ruminants. I guess one has to own horses to understand my advice.

  • 68_polara Oct 12, 2007

    The whole hay thing seems to be it's own science to those who have to feed a large amount of livestock or horses. I've been left scratching my head as well listening to those guys before. The thing is though, if you do have livestock or board horses and you don't learn it you can way over spend on feed/hay, end up with malnourished/unhealthy animals, or not have enough hay to last the winter. It's not rocket science but definitely not something simple either.