LAMPASAS, Texas (KXAN) — Record temperatures and drought are causing Central Texas ranchers to sell off their cattle by the thousands.
“Way more cows now, we don’t see as many cows here,” said Andy Baumeister, who runs the Lampasas Cattle Auction.
Baumeister says the ongoing drought has left cattle ranchers in a tough spot and many are now trying to sell their cattle.
“They are out of grass, out of water and nobody is making any hay,” said Baumeister.
Terry Frakes owns a small herd of cattle just north of Lampasas. He usually grows his own hay on about 75 acres, but this year has been difficult.
“I expect those 75 acres will produce zero bails of hay this year,” Frakes said. “Last year I paid $60 a bail, that is a round bail, and I just bought some 10 days ago and spent $120.”
Frakes has a small herd, but some ranchers with thousands of head of cattle can spend a lot of money for food and other prices to transport the feed.
Baumeister says 2011 was a bad drought as well, but this year it’s even worse.
“Everyone talks about 2011, we sold a lot of cows in 2011,” said Baumeister. “The thing about here in Lampasas is we have been selling on these cows for two months. In 2011 they didn’t start selling on them until July.”
If most ranchers are selling their cattle, who’s buying?
“The majority of the cows are going to the packers,” said Baumeister.
“That demand for ground beef has kept some of the cull cows, or older cow, prices high even though a lot of people are selling,” said David Anderson, an economist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. “So, what we are doing today is shipping a lot of animals, that means we have a lot of beef production today, but in the future, we will have less.”
Anderson says a drought can have major impacts on cattle and livestock for years.
“We have a lot of beef production today, but in the future we are going to have less, less next year and even less the year after that because we don’t have those cows producing calves,” said Anderson.
All the cattle being sold now could also mean fewer cows showing up at the Lampasas Cattle Auction as well.
“There is not going to be a lot of cattle to sell this fall,” said Baumeister.
The Texas drought monitor shows more than 93% of the state is experiencing a drought.