ND herders continue to sell much of their cattle herds amid drought


RUGBY, ND – Farmers and ranchers across the state have felt the impact of the drought. Many pastoralists have had to contend with the reality of selling some or all of their herds of cattle, leaving places like the Rugby Cattle Auction full of cattle and potential buyers.

As the auctioneer reads the prices, many of these breeders remain silent. They observe that their cattle are sold.

“The people with the smaller herds who have to sell, they have nothing. Those who have a large enough herd can shrink and come back, they will probably be better in a few years, but now what are they going to do for the summer, ”said Larry Haman, a breeder selling some of his heifers.

Vendors from across the Midwest have come to auction cattle like this one in Rugby to raise their own herds, understanding the hardships.

“I think if anyone has sympathy for a way of life like him, he works hard, he puts a lot of time and effort into it and seeing these cattle go is a part of his life that goes away when he sells this cattle, ”said Keith Eichler, a South Dakota cattle buyer.

The heads of cattle are jostling and the bids are placed.

More than 2,000 cattle were up for auction, one of the highest numbers ever recorded by the auction.

“We have three full herd dispersions today, cow-calf pairs, plus a lot of guys cutting 40-50 pairs, hoping to have enough grass to keep cattle,” said Ron Gorgerson, an auctioneer. .

Some explained that it was difficult to see many young ranchers take such a hit.

“I want to see young people succeed. I always say this is God’s way of telling us old people to stop or slow down, ”Haman joked.

Many are just trying to get through the season.

“Our hearts and prayers are certainly with the ranchers, they are not like the grain farmers who have the crop insurance program. They are strictly alone, ”Gorgeerson said.

Gorgeerson added that prayers for rain are very necessary.

The next auction will take place next Monday in Rugby.

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