Texas Ranchers Dealing With Drought
Parts of Texas have been getting some much-needed rain.
And while Laredo did get a few showers last week, it hasn't been enough to get south Texas out of a devastating drought.
Our Annette Garcia spoke with ranchers attending the second annual ranchers conference here in Laredo today.
“In counties where you have the bulk of cattle are counties where it’s the driest.”
Blistering heat and lack of rain were main topics of discussion at the Bi-national Ranchers Conference.
A devastating drought is affecting hundreds of thousands of acres.
“In the past sometimes people would move cattle to other counties where they can rent a pasture for 3 to 6 months. In this case they won't do that because most of Texas looks the same.”
This ranch in Encinal has the symptoms ranchers are all talking about.
“A lot of local landowners have seen their ponds go dry. We’re talking about ponds that have been around for a number of years.”
Green grass turned brown and now looks gray.
The rule of thumb is generally that the height of the grass equals the length of the roots. For example if grass is ten inches tall, the roots are ten inches deep. This grass is almost gone, so are the roots and even if it were to rain soon, it would take months before the grass would react to the moisture.
“It’s going to take several months to get re-growth in sufficient amounts to have enough to sustain a cattle herd.”
This creek where animals once found nourishment is also gone.
Ranchers’ resources are drying up too.
Costs are mounting and Texas ranchers stand to lose an estimated $1.2 billion combined.
Bails of hay, which usually cost $55, now cost $85 to $100.
“They’re either selling out or the cost of feed is going up so you really sharpen your pencil to see if you want to stay in the business.”
“Everyone says I hope we don’t get a hurricane but it may be a saving factor.”
But many gave up hoping for rain a long time ago and have sold off their herds.
“It's a tough situation for ranchers.”
Many ranchers are selling head of cattle quickly since the market is good right now.
But it’s expected to taper off by the end of the summer.
The dry weather and lack of water is also affecting the deer population.
Property owners say they're doing what they can to get through the tough time.