Ongoing drought is driving thousands of cattle to farms in other states

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:32 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FOREST, Miss. (WLBT) - The ongoing drought is driving cattle sales through the roof at a sale barn in Scott County.

That’s because Mississippi farmers don’t have the hay or the water to take care of them.

Monday, Tadlock Stockyard in Forest was a revolving door with farmers lining up with cattle in hopes of auctioning them off.

Farmers say the drought has made it to where there’s no grass to graze, and if there’s no grass to graze, there’s no grass to cut for hay. Meanwhile, the ponds farmers rely on to keep their cattle hydrated are dried up.

“This dry weather is forcing these people to do this. It’s not because they want to do it, but they’re forced to and don’t have a choice,” Tadlock Stockyard Owner David Tadlock said.

In the 99 years Tadlock’s sale barn has been in operation, he says it didn’t break the record for cattle sales until two weeks ago with 2,800 sold. It then broke that record the very next week and is expected to break it again this week.

In total, Tadlock says about eighty-five-hundred cattle have been auctioned off at his sale barn in the last three weeks alone.

Normally, Scott County farmer Ted Jones says it’s the time of year when he and other farmers across the state would be reserving hay for winter, but because of the drought, they don’t have any to reserve.

“I haven’t sold any [cattle] that I didn’t want to sell yet, but that may [happen],” Jones said.

But Jones says that’s just a part of farming.

“We’re farmers. These things happen. We’re just going to keep pressing on,” he said. “The Lord’s taking care of us. We keep going. We don’t give up. We just keep going.”

Tadlock says our state’s farmers are taking home a good chunk of change for the cattle they’re selling, but it’s not sustainable.

“When they have to replace them, maybe a year from now or two years from now, these cattle – since they sold them all – [the cattle prices] are just going to be a lot higher. And the market will probably get a lot higher on these cows and these calves as we go forth,” he said.

It’s a reality, he says, that’s likely going to put a number of farms out of business, and it’ll affect you as a consumer as well.

“Less cattle means less meat, and that’s what you’re going to see,” Tadlock said.

Meanwhile, farmers outside of Mississippi are having a hay day.

“We have buyers coming in here from out of state. We have a lot of these calves leaving here and going to Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Missouri. They’re buying these cattle and hauling them back,” he said.

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please click here to report it and include the headline of the story in your email.