GONAZALES, Texas, June 16 (UPI) -- Texas ranchers say they are using a variety of strategies to keep herds viable eight months into a historic drought.
"The last eight months have been the driest in the state of Texas since records were first kept in 1895," said Travis Miller, an official at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.
Agriculture extension agent Ryan Martin in Motley County said, "Ranchers are being forced to sell off cattle or invest in more acreage for grazing," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Thursday.
Wesley Welch, assistant manager at Spade Ranches said controlling more land, through buying or leasing, "allows us the ability to move cattle to where there is moisture."
However, "This time it's not the case. Most have no grass, and those that do have no water," he said.
Welch is only 29, but 80-year-old rancher Jim Selman from Gonzales, Texas, concurs.
"This is probably the driest spell we've had in history. Absolutely no rain in May, none in April," Selman said.
Some are moving cattle out of the state to Colorado in search of water or to New Mexico in search of better grazing.
Selman said he would apply for a federal emergency loan through the Livestock Forage Program, but he expects the response will be slow.
As a last resort, some ranchers "burn pear."
That refers to using a propane torch to burning thorns off of prickly pear cactus. Not many have taken that step yet, as the price of propane makes that prohibitive, the newspaper said.