North State cattle ranchers hit hard by drought

Mar 6, 2014 7:34 PM

Cattle ranchers appreciate this recent rainfall, but they say it's short-term relief.

Like Myron Openshaw, a third generation Oroville cattle rancher and former California Cattlemen's Association President.

Openshaw has been ranching his entire life. He owns 3,000 acres of land, most of which he rents out now.

He says water and cattle really do go hand in hand.

“It’s going to take a lot of moisture, a lot of rain to make up for the deficit we suffered early in the year,” Openshaw said.

He leases land to two other ranchers, both of whom have suffered.

One has had to cut 20% of his herd.

The other sold his yearlings earlier than expected because of steep hay costs, a supplemental feed.

“The more people supplement, the higher the feed costs go up, and it just keeps escalating.”

His neighbor, rancher Holly Foster, has spent $12,000 on hay this year, at double the cost of what it was a couple of years ago.

She's hoping for a better fall this year, but in the meantime, she may have to sell calves earlier than expected. Because they’ll weigh less, she will lose money.

Openshaw said selling cattle is tough, and once you cut the head, it's hard to rebuild the herd.

The North State's cattle industry is a huge one, valued at least $70,000,000 in four of the major counties (Butte, Glenn, Tehama, Shasta).


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