Ranchers look at thinning herds as water pressures, wildfires, rising prices take toll

Rangeland losses due to a combination of drought and wildfire have dealt a severe blow to California's ranchers, who now are facing tough choices on whether to reduce herd sizes.

The losses are estimated at more than $80 million and include costs of supplementing feed for animals and the predicament of having to sell animals that are underweight, said Steve Lyle, a spokesman for the California Department of Agriculture.

"We're seeing a lot of people reducing the size of their herds," said Matt Byrne, executive vice president of the California Cattlemen's Association.

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