Mesa County, CO – The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association kicks off their annual convention and trade show on June 21st. The theme this year is ‘Reunite and Re-engage’, as last year ranchers were unable to meet, network, and discuss serious Colorado agricultural issues due to the pandemic. Some discussion points this year include wolf-introduction, private-property rights, and animal health and welfare.
One of the hottest topics for ranchers at the convention is the heat here in Mesa County, and the implications it may have for droughts and their cattle and livestock. While this isn’t the first drought these ranchers have encountered in their careers, some say it could be the worst one so far, “The really hard part this year is we had kind of a poor water year last year; 2020 was not a good water year, and now 2021 is another one that is not a good water year, which has been extra hard,” says rancher Chase Roeber, “As you’re walking across the pasture you feel the crunch of dry feed and dry ground, and that’s just brutal,” describes Cattlemen’s Association’s Janie Vanwinkle.
Financially, some ranchers say they may have a difficult time recovering from this drought; noting the cost of hay and irrigation water when both resources are incredibly scarce. Not to mention the impact that it has on cattle, “The cattle from our experience are just not happy. It’s not that they don’t have feed, but they’re having to travel further and work harder, and they’re just not happy,” continues Vanwinkle.
While this is a difficult time for ranchers and their livestock alike, this convention sparks conversation about what the Western Slope can do to get through this drought together. If you or anyone you know would like to join the conversation, the convention and trade show continues through June 23rd at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Grand Junction, Colorado.