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Summer is Over

Written by Dennis Sun
My mood is getting better, and it is starting to cool off. They say this was one of the hottest summers ever recorded, but we already knew that, didn’t we? It seems like summer started around the last of March this year.
    So far, livestock producers have made it to this point and most are praying that this is a one summer drought. Really, everyone should be praying, but that’s life. The big questions are, when will it end and will we be able to get through the winter alright?
    The other question out there is, who is going to win the Presidential election? There really needs to be a lot of prayers.
    It is going to be an interesting winter. Some of us are already in a shell-shocked mode. The good for some is cattle prices are strong, especially canner bulls and cows. Somehow horse prices are reasonable good, considering the price of hay. The sheep producers are dealing with lower prices, especially if one compares them to last year, and wool is not good either, but as, and if, world economies rise, so will lamb and wool.
    Two things that are really going to hurt us this winter are, of course, fuel prices and winter feed costs. The United States is producing a lot of oil and natural gas, but similar to grain, we are part of a global market, which can hurt or help producers, depending on the commodity. The demand for beef worldwide is strong and production in Australia and parts of South America are down – that is the bright spot. It is keeping beef prices high, and we just hope the world economy keeps growing where people can afford it. If nothing else hamburger is in great demand worldwide. Whether you eat it, sell it or produce it, hamburger is a big deal. In the past we never thought too much about it. It was kind of a byproduct. I remember when I was young, hamburger was looked down on in the cookhouse, and it ranked pretty low. Now hamburger is an everyday staple.
    Due to the wild fires and drought, a big issue, I think, is going to be excessive grazing by wildlife on pastures we use for winter grazing. We are talking about elk mostly, and that damage occurs not only to grass but also fencing and haystacks, especially in areas of over objective numbers. These large numbers of elk and other wildlife are really going to be an issue this winter. I hope the Game and Fish Department is thinking about ways to mitigate the issue. Wildlife has the option of going where the forage is – livestock don’t. I would hope ranchers and farmers will start visiting with the local Game and Fish personnel early, first to get their attention and second to have a plan when all the elk come out of the hills and mountains this winter.
    You know this isn’t our first rodeo with drought and will not be the last. But you will still be raising cattle, sheep and kids in Wyoming for years to come. Hang in there.
Dennis