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GAINESVILLE - North Texas cattle ranchers are selling their livestock in record numbers. The problem is the drought, which is making it difficult to keep their cattle fed and watered.

One of the most popular livestock auctions in Texas is north of Denton in Gainesville. Ranchers came there Friday to sell their cows in droves.

There are so many cattle up for sale, the Gainesville Livestock Auction will go on all night and into the weekend.

Typically, we would be selling from 700 to 900 cows a week, said auction owner James Redbone Peyrot. Now, we're anywhere from 1,600 to 2,200, just cows.

Peyrot blames the rising numbers on the drought. So does rancher O.D. Crowl, who sold 317 cattle at the auction.

Crowl said he had no choice.

I have nothing for them to eat. We have no grass. We have no feed. We have no hay. We had to sell them, Crowl said.

Peyrot says many ranchers are out of water.

They don't have any water for their cows, Peyrot said. We've been selling a lot of people completely out, because they don't have any water on their place.

Fortunately, the cattle are selling at what ranchers told us is a decent price, that will help them keep their businesses afloat.

Most of the buyers are coming from outside of Texas.

A lot of guys are out of Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and North and South Dakota, Peyrot said.

C.L. Simco says this is the worst drought he has experienced since the 1950 s.

Most of the money you put into these cows, it's in the pasture. You're just going to lose it, Simco said. You're not going to regain that amount of money. So you're probably better off to sell the cows.

Ranchers say if North Texas gets some rain to help their pastures grow back, they ll buy cattle to replace what they sold.

That s if it rains, Crowl said. I don't think it's going to rain.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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