High prices and drought spur cattle sales

Monday, January 23rd 2006, 10:27 am
By: News On 6

The owner of the Tulsa Stockyard says the combination of the drought and the high prices has a lot of people bringing their cattle to the market.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says Monday morning, the trucks pull in and 3,500 cattle stepped off to go up for auction. Cattlemen are selling off stock they typically would keep until summer.

Tulsa Stockyards owner Joe Don Eaves: "We're seeing 300 pound calves come in that we normally wouldn't see until they're bigger, but the prices are so good on these light cattle and they're so short on forage that they're going to go ahead and bring them in."

The auction happens every Monday, but January is usually slow. Not this year - not with a drought cutting down on pasture, and high prices encouraging ranchers to sell.

While a lot of cattlemen are selling because of dry weather, just as many are selling because of high prices. The buyers at the Tulsa Stockyards are paying about as much as they ever have. It's a sellers market because demand is high, and that's good news for Oklahoma cattlemen, because many of them need to sell.

Rancher Theodore Cato decided to sell off a few calves that have just been weaned. Otherwise he'd have to buy hay to feed them. "It's been dry a long time, and I have about 500 acres and it's all dried up."

Young cattle sell for about $1.30 a pound right now and that's a good price. Rogers County rancher Bob Newton brought just 5 head in. He wishes he had 500 to sell. "Because of the price of them right now, the price is about as high as I've ever seen."

Cattlemen don't know how long prices will stay up - or how long the drought will last. Both are part of the gamble they take just staying in the business.