On The Farm: Cattle Numbers Rising - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

On The Farm: Cattle Numbers Rising

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Like farming, cattle ranching is a 12-month job. And during calving season, that mean's early mornings and late nights. But the hard work is paying off in North Dakota.

"It makes for a lot of short nights and long days," says cattle rancher Blaine Huff. "My Dad comes out and helps in the morning a little bit, but I'm pretty much a one man show when it comes to this out here."

Huff is a fourth-generation cattle rancher in Donnybrook. He's got over 500 head of cattle at his ranch. A number that's gone up over the past year, which is something that isn't happening across the country.

U.S. cow numbers are down in the U.S. this year compared to 2013. At 29 million head.  That's the lowest it's been since 1962, but in the Peace Garden State, numbers are trending the opposite way. Beef cow numbers have increased by more than 2 percent over the past year.

"Prices are excellent right now. I guess the ones you've got are worth a lot. It's hard to keep heifers back because they're worth a thousand dollars off the cow in the fall."

The positive trend is due to record high cattle prices, a large availability of pasture lands and fortunate weather. North-central North Dakota has narrowly avoided some of the more harsh winter weather that's hit the Midwest.

"Thank God we didn't receive the snow that they did over east and down south," says Huff. "I don't wish that on anybody, but I'm sure glad we didn't receive that because that makes 100 times work out of things."

Like any business driven by supply and demand, things could change overnight. And many outside factors could affect the success of North Dakota cattle ranches, but for now, things look promising.

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