It’s a difficult decision for the owners of ranches in Colorado, should they sell cattle when the time are tough. There are very specific considerations including the existence of a small flower – the larkspur. Most of the local cattle have by now developed an immunity to this normally posionous plant. So a farmer who is seeking to reduce his stock in tough time faces this dilemma – when he does replace his stock, will they get poisoned on the pervasive larkspur.
It’s just one of the considerations that farmers are having to make. The drought has made the economics of rearing cattle in Colorado basically not add up. The sensible thing seems to be sell up and wait for better times. Sure the farmers can take it on the chin and keep their herds in tact and simply build up debt. The strategy may work if this is a one off, but nobody really knows and a farm with many debts is even more vulnerable in hard economic times.
The climate is the real concern for anyone involved in agriculture in Colorado. If the conditions we are seeing now continue then cattle farming in the state is simply not viable. Throughout all areas of farming the drought is putting tremendous stresses. A survey conducted with livestock farmers from the Southern part of the state found that over 35% would leave the industry if these conditions continued.
The problem is that the sensible option for cattle farmers is to reduce their herds, but it’s not always simple to recover. Many farmers are just retiring early or selling their land off. Every time this happens the capacity of the State falls and it’s unsure if it will be recovered even when better times come along.
The successful farmers are those who are seeking to adapt and change in line with the climate. Many of them are looking for alternative crops and livestock options. The internet is obviously a great way to research some of these alternatives and this site – http://www.iplayerabroad.com/ allows access to the farming sites on the BBC and UK TV channels.
On Youtube here if you can’t see properly.
Some of the farmers who are able to adapt are experiencing some pretty rapid growth. Unfortunately in Colorado there aren’t nearly enough of these.