Drought having severe impact on Alabama ranchers

WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The drought is having a devastating impact on many farmers and ranchers. Some say this drought could cost some ranchers their livelihoods.

It doesn’t take much to see that things are dry at Harold Wade’s ranch. Just outside Oakman, the pastures surrounding his barns are brown. What’s left of the grass crunches underneath your feet.

“It’s probably been one of the worst droughts that I’ve seen in my career,” Harold Wade said. His career spans a lifetime. The cattle he raises, some of them just born, can’t find water. The drought has scorched his pastures.

“We’re having some water problems here,” Wade explained.

“I’m pumping approximately three thousand gallons a day out of well to actually water the calves.”

What little water is left isn’t enough. Wade says there is only one creek left with a trickle of water. One of the creeks on his property he’s never seen run dry.

“We haven’t had any rain here any measurable rain in eight weeks,” Wade said. There’s no rain in site.

“One of the things that made this drought more significant than some of the other dry weather experiences we’ve had in the past is that we actually came through this past winter fairly dry and in need of rain fall,” explained Danny Cain. He’s the Walker County Extension Coordinator. Little rain is falling this Fall and a hot dry summer is turning into a bleak winter for some ranchers.

“You work years to build your herd and then a drought like this,” Wade said, looking out over his pasture. A drought like this, some ranchers might not make it out of at all.

“There’s a lot of lot of decisions that can be made and most of them are not good,” Wade sighed.

There are a number of resources for farmers and ranchers during the drought. Visit the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service Drought website.

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