Widespread drought conditions in South Dakota are forcing the state’s ranchers to either purchase additional hay or bring their cattle to auction sooner, according to the Black Hills Pioneer. The price of hay has also increased as the drought progresses with alfalfa hay selling for $150-160 per ton.
While some ranchers are trying to hold onto younger cows and calves as long as possible, some cow-calf pairs are being sold at auction already, an unusual occurrence in a non-drought year.
The United States Department of Agriculture opened emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program or CRP lands in the state earlier this year. The authorization will remain in place through September unless conditions improve. Governor Daugaard has also declared a drought emergency and instructed the Drought Task Force to monitor conditions statewide.
To read more about agriculture and natural resources in the Black Hills, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.