Drought news: Southeast Colorado ranchers continue to cull herds, lack of suitable pasture along with high costs for water and feed are cited

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“The biggest part of it in our area is that there’s no water,” said Dan Henrichs, president of the Pueblo County Stockman’s Association. “A little bit of rain will grow grass, but you need a lot of rain to fill up a dugout dirt pond.” One rancher was paying $70 per 1,000 gallons to haul water — about 10 times the going rate for the upper end of urban water costs — to what remained of her herd before she finally sold off the rest, he said. “This spring we sold off 60 head of cows because the price was good,” Henrichs said. “I didn’t want to get behind the curve like we did in 2002.”

The last big sell-off of cattle came during the historic drought of 2002. This year, much of the state saw near-record snowpack and ample summer rains…

In the Arkansas River basin, a drought that began a year ago still persists. While there have been some storms, precipitation remains below normal and the lack of moisture over the winter months was devastating to grasslands…

The current drought has been most severe in Texas, but stretches into Baca, Las Animas and Huerfano counties in Southeastern Colorado…

“You have an unusual situation with the cattle prices so high, and the price of grain and hay also up. On top of that, hay is hard to find,” Sabel said…

Farmers in Nebraska are selling hay in Texas for more than twice the price of a year ago — up to $330 a ton.

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