The price of hay in Canada’s cattle country has already doubled, and ranchers could be forced to sell animals to feedlots early in the coming weeks if the drought persists.
“We could squeak by at best, if it started raining,” said Charlie Christie, chair of Alberta Beef Producers, who is considering taking his cows off his farm in Alberta in Sept, a month earlier than usual due to the dire pasture conditions. “Worst-case scenario is it dries up, and province-wide we just don’t have enough feed. You’re going to see a liquidation of the cow herd.”
Alberta, the nation’s biggest beef producer, received less than 60% of its average rainfall since April 1, according to government data.
The poor grazing conditions have sent the price of hay, used as feed, to as high as C$200 ($153) a metric ton, twice as much as a year earlier, according to Alberta Beef Producers.
“There are guys looking for feed all over the place,” said Rick Toney, chairman of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association. “Guys are planning on selling because they can’t afford to feed their cows this winter.”
Dryness has also struck the southern U.S. Plains, again forcing ranchers to sell cattle to feedlots earlier than normal this year.
Grand Solar Minimum
The climatic extremes continue to intensify.