ELK GROVE –
The grasses that are the main food supply for grazing cattle are shorter than usual this year in the Sacramento Valley. This creates a costly scenario for cattle ranchers.
“Lack of grass means expensive feed cost, or selling cattle and downsizing,” said Walter Hardesty, owner of a ranch in Elk Grove.
Hartesty is able to irrigate some of his grazing land. But he is also dipping into the hay supply in his barn earlier than usual. Both options are expensive. Hardesty would normally sell some of his hay at this time of the season. For now, he is keeping it to make sure his own cows are well fed.
A costly season for cattle ranchers could mean higher beef prices for consumers in the coming months. But it is not too late for a good March storm to cause the grasses to grow again, changing ranchers’ fortunes.
“We need one in the next two weeks,” said Hardesty.