A shortage of feed crops as a result of this summer's drought is forcing livestock farmers to reduce their herds and put animals up for sale.
Gerald Rollins, the director of the Ontario Cattleman's Association, said the drought has stressed the fields, the cows, and the farmers.
"They're finding it really tough and they are really worried about what's going to happen in the fall, because there's just going to be no feed," said Rollins.
Farmers in areas like Cobden, Ont. — about 115 kilometres west of Ottawa — are reducing herd sizes out of concern the price of feed will rise.
The Renfrew-Pontiac Livestock sales barn typically sees 50 animals on a Tuesday sale. But this Tuesday sales barn owner Harry Dick said he sold 150 animals, and that the increase has been typical of this summer.
"Farmers are panicking," said Dick, who said livestock like cattle are fetching prices at auction about 15 per cent below normal per-pound prices.
Next Tuesday, Ontario Agriculture Minister Ted McMeekin will tour Renfrew County and will likely hear from farmers looking for drought-assistance money.
Dick said how the province responds would in turn determine what happens to farmers down the Ottawa Valley.
"If they get money from the government to buy hay they'll hang on. If they don't, they won't hang on," he said.