Southern Drought Tests Cattle Industry
Throughout the South, most farmers and ranchers rely on rain-fed (rather than irrigated) pastures and croplands to feed their livestock. Food from these sources becomes increasingly scarce during drought, so some ranchers buy supplemental livestock feed like the protein cubes that cows are eating in this photo.
Texas has never experienced so little rain prior to and during the primary growing season as the state did in late 2010 and early 2011. As the drought continued through summer, pastures turned brown and dry, and prices for protein cubes and hay increased. In order to avoid losing money, some ranchers reduced their herds to minimal populations or sold them altogether.
For more on the dry conditions in summer 2011, see Drought in the Southern United States.