Minnesota cattle farmer sells half of herd after tough drought season

The rain came a little too late for many farmers this year. Now with winter approaching and feed prices soaring, cattle farmers are having to decide whether to hold on or sell.

Fifth generation and 20 years on their own, Ted and Katie Brenny are filling their trailer with cows to go to auction.

"That’s less mouths to feed, less money I need to buy in feed," Cattle farmer Katie said.

The lack of rain and outrageous price of hay forcing them to sell off about half their herd.

"It’s not fun," Katie said. I don’t enjoy taking trips to the sales barn, but I also don’t like writing check for feed."

Since FOX 9 first met the Brenny’s in July, they got some rain, which helped their fields and probably saved the farm. But especially in places like northern Minnesota that continue to be ravaged by drought, cattle farmers are having to make some tough decisions.

"We’re to the point where if you don’t have the forage you need to start making decisions on what you’re going to do with some of your cows," said Allison Vanderwall from the Minnesota State Cattleman’s Association.

The Minnesota State Cattleman’s Association saying coupled with a global pandemic and supply chain issues, the drought has been devastating.

"It’s been a wild ride for many producers and an exhausting year to say the least," Allison said.

The Brenny’s just happy that they could keep some cows and fight to see another season.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says it hasn’t been tracking how many cattle farmers have had to downsize their herd or enter into early retirement but industry groups say especially over the summer they know that was a path that many chose.