Record high numbers of cattle sales in Rugby

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 5:05 PM CDT
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RUGBY, N.D. – Across the region, ranchers have had to give up much of their cattle due to the drought. While selling off a few heads here and there is not unheard off, this year many sold off more than half or even all their herds, leaving sales barns like the Rugby Livestock Auction busier than ever.

Thousands of head of cattle have passed through this sale barn just this year alone.

“Normally in the summers, we have every other week, we sell 200 to 300 head of cows. This year, we had every week all the way through May, June, and July and we sold anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000,” said Cliff Mattson, Rugby Livestock Auction owner.

As quick as the auctioneer rambles off numbers, hundreds more wait next in line.

“We have had to sell a number, a higher percentage of our cows than normal just because of the drought and we marketed them through Rugby Livestock, and they’ve done a nice job for us here and I have to give them credit for the job they’ve done for the local area ranchers trying to help them out,” said Mark Barenthsen, Powers Lake rancher.

With the record high number of cattle making their way through, it puts more stress on the sale barn.

“It put a lot of stress on everybody as a rancher, but also it puts stress on us trying to get enough help for enough workers to be able to get through these tough times,” said Mattson.

It’s a struggle, but some ranchers said they’ve faced challenges like this before.

“I grew up on a dairy farm, so I saw it first-hand having to sell off all of our cattle and even our land just to get by. So, it’s tough to see, but it’s part of the cycle of life. I hate to say it, but it is,” said Rachael Oliver with the Red Angus Association of America.

With the amount of moisture the state has seen in the last weeks, sales have slowed down.

Now, ranchers anxiously await to see what this winter will bring.

The Rugby Livestock Auction typically sells around 60,000 to 65,000 thousand cattle a year.

This year, they hit that mark just in the summer months alone and calving season is coming up soon.

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