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AG Report: California Cattle Ranchers Praying For Rain

Published On: Jan 10 2014 10:44:54 AM CST
Updated On: Jan 10 2014 10:50:19 AM CST

Record-low rain numbers have put much of California in a major dry spell. These dry conditions have presented hardships for local cattle ranchers.

CALIFORNIA -

Record-low rain numbers have put much of California in a major dry spell. These dry conditions have presented hardships for local cattle ranchers.

"We darn sure need the rain," says rancher Paul Righetti. "It's really gotten a lot tougher here lately."

Raising cattle is in Righetti's blood. When he says times are tough, you better believe it. Dry weather for the past few years has severely impacted local cattle ranchers. They rely on natural grass on their land for their cattle to graze on, but with very little rain, that grass is non-existent. Ranchers like Righetti have had to buy alternative food for their livestock.

"We've had to buy hay from the Central Valley," says Righetti. "We've been feeding cattle now for almost 6 months. It's starting to have its effect."

Righetti says he's dishing out over 1 ton of alfalfa per day to his animals, at a cost of about $300 per ton. The financial burden has affected how much feed is given to the animals.

"We're feeding them an ample amount, but not overfeeding them because of the extra expense," says Righetti.

With the land as brown and dry as it is right now, ranchers are finding themselves in a predicament. Do they keep their herd, and put up with the outrageous costs of feed? Or do they sell some of them off and ease the burden?

"I think about it everyday," says Righetti. "What you would probably do first is sell the calves, and try to keep the cows. Hopefully it doesn't have to come to that."

For that to happen, Righetti is hoping for a miracle.

"I think everybody needs to pray a little bit. Everybody needs water."