Cattle Industry Suffers Cattle Sale Losses

Matt Wing remembers when his Dalhart cattle auction room was full.

"Our numbers escalated every week, every year," Wing said about the Cattleman's Livestock Company since the year 2004. "And we were really doing good until this thing."

Wing is referring to the Bovine Tuberculosis outbreak in New Mexico. The state lost it's TB-Free status after some dairy cattle in Curry County tested positive for the disease in 2007.

Since then, exports from the state must undergo expensive testing. And, according to Wing, most arrive in poor condition.

"The bruising, the weight loss, the shrinking is phenomenal. And they are also limited to the buyers," he said.

Less buyers means less competition. And consequently, this is slicing the price of cattle by a significant margin.

"We are incurring some big losses out on the feed yards, especially. I'm hearing losses of a couple hundred dollars a head, even more," said Jerry Hatfield, who buys livestock at the auction.

While the price of cattle is down, the price of everything else in the cattle industry keeps climbing.

"As the cost of transportation, feed costs go up, that means it's less we can buy, less we can pay for the animal," Hatfield said.

Another important factor in the equation is the lack of rain.

"The drought has forced many cows to sell already," Wing said. "So there's not that many cows left to sell."

Leaving more vacant seats at the Cattleman's Livestock auction room.