Lack of rain unsettles cattle ranchers

FRESNO, Calif.

This field should normally be green with about two and a half inches of grass for cattle to feed on. Instead, it's brown and with no recent rain, a pricy problem.

Vince Genco wants to see green grassy pastures, instead, the only green he is seeing are the dollars he's spending to keep his cows full and healthy.

"You have to keep them in fairly good condition for the reproductive cycle so if you hurt them too bad, if you don't feed them enough, then you don't get them pregnant, then you don't have calves for next year, so it's a catch 22," said Genco. "So, you have to spend the money and just pray for rain."

Just to feed this group of cattle, it's $22 hundred a month. The high cost of hay is hitting ranchers hard.

Wind earlier this month, compounded the problem by sucking the moisture out of the ground. Freezing temperatures didn't help either. And little rain has meant little fog, which is another problem.

Genco said, "Most people hate the fog, we love the fog because it actually holds the grass until the rain comes."

This past February, cattle ranchers were all smiles at the sight of green hills, the benefit of a wet winter. It's discouraging for this rancher to look down and see the "free cattle feed", has dried up.

Genco said, "That plant should be about that big right now, and that's how big it is."

In addition to hay, ranchers also serve up a molasses supplement to ensure cattle are getting all around good nutrition. It's especially important during frigid winter months.

Many ranchers and farmers are hoping the Farmers' Almanac predictions for rain in late January and February will help ease the financial burden.

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