Ranchers concerned about extreme summer heat - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Ranchers concerned about extreme summer heat

(NBC News) -

Joe Freeman is a 5th generation rancher has said that he is scared of how dry it is getting.

He had begun culling his herd in 2011.

Jeremy Fuchs of the Texas and Southwestern cattle raisers said, "As the pastures dried up, ranchers were forced to sell their animals in order to ensure adequate feed for those who remained."

The Texas and Southwestern cattle raisers association saw a four-year decline in cattle starting in 2011 that dropped herd numbers to the lowest they'd been since the 1960's.

Freeman said, "When it's a general drought and everybody has to sell down, you flood the market. You flood the market on anything, prices go down."

Low prices helped beef consumers for three years after the drought hit.

Since 2014, with more rain, ranchers are recovering, but that has forced beef prices up. 

There are fewer cows to produce calves, and it's more expensive to buy into ranching.

Freeman said, "It's a financial train wreck but it's reality and it's just what you have to do."

Freeman has been monitoring ground conditions every day.

Joe Freeman, a rancher said, "It won't really show up to me until we approach April. And that's when hard decisions will have to be made, and they'll have to be made pretty fast."

Hard decisions like another sell-off.

But he's keeping his chin up. 

This has been his family's way of life since 1884.

Freeman said, "We'll just keep an eye on things and hope for the best. That's all we can do."

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