Calgary

Alberta ranchers forced to sell herds

In a summer beset by drought and hail, many ranchers across Alberta are being forced to sell off some of their cattle because they can't afford to feed them.
Many Alberta ranchers are being forced to sell cattle because drought and hail have decimated pastures and sent the price of hay spiking. ((CBC))

Many ranchers across Alberta are being forced to sell off part of their herds because they can't afford to feed them. 

The summer drought has more than doubled the price of hay and a hail storm earlier this month damaged what was left of many farmers' pastures.

Loretta Blain and her husband, who have ranched near Olds for 40 years, have just had to sell most of their cattle.

"This year, I have talked to so many people who are in the same position as us that are having to sell their cows," Blain said.  "I don't know where there are going to be cows had in this country pretty soon."

Many cattle producers face the same situation. They've had a series of difficulties over the last seven years: a drought, export problems with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a huge jump in the price of fuel and this summer's drought and hail.

Like many Alberta ranchers, Blain said she and her husband can't keep going.

"We worked hard. I've baled, I've cut hay, I've done everything. It's kind of heart-breaking to see all your hard work have to go like it has," she said.

Blain's neighbour, bison rancher Peter Haase, has been forced to sell about a third of his herd.

"How am I going to feed my animals?" Haase said. "What am I going to do? Who's going to buy them? Which animals am I going to get rid of?

"It's the same type of thing over and over again," he said.

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