Ongoing drought conditions are forcing some farmers in the region to sell their livestock because they can't afford to buy their animals’ increasingly expensive feed.

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Harry Dick, owner of a sale barn in Cobden, Ont., said the price of big steers, which used to sit at about $1.85 per pound, has dropped to about $1.40, $1.45 per pound this year. (CBC)

"Well there's been a lot more cattle coming to market, and the price has dropped quite a bit," said Harry Dick, owner of Renfrew-Pontiac Livestock, a sale barn in Cobden, Ont. "Because there's nothing to feed them. The pastures have dried right up, and the water, too.

"The drought is causing some farmers to let them go now, rather than buy the hay to feed them."

Dick said the price of big steers, which used to sit at about $1.85 per pound, has dropped to between $1.40 and $1.45 per pound.

Feed expenses on the rise

"I've never seen it this hot, this dry in my life; 50-some years," Dick said. "Not hot weather like this, not so long. We've had three months of it."

The lack of grass for grazing and the high cost of hay forced Eganville, Ont., farmer Fred Verch to unload cattle at a loss last week.

Last year Verch spent about $4,000 on hay because the hay he grew himself was viable.

But so far this year, he said he has spent $80,000 on hay. His first cut of his own hay yielded little, Verch said, and there will be no second cut.

"Everything has to go on hold, everything goes on hold," Verch said. "You don't spend no more money than you have to, because the cattle come first."

Verch and other farmers in his situation will have to wait to find out what support, if any, they will get from the federal government. The government is assessing the situation over the next 45 days.