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      Valley ranchers struggle to stay afloat during drought

      The sounds of hundreds of hungry cattle fill the air as they rush to the only source of food available.

      It's been almost 8 months since Fausto Salinas, Jr. and his herd of cattle have seen rain.

      He said, now, he is forced to move his livestock into a confined area so they can eat.

      "In the 25 years I've been doing this I've never seen it this bad, Salinas said. This year we've gotten to the point that we've started buying hay."

      Salinas said they only have about 300 bales of hay left and it is not enough to last them over the next few months.

      "It is hitting us hard this year," Salinas said. He said his biggest fear is that, if this drought continues, he will have to give up what he has worked so hard to build.

      "It's hard because we've worked hard to get where we're at---having to sell what we have to replace the quality of cattle that we have--that's what hurts the most," Salinas said.

      Sam Rodriguez is the general manager of R.Y. Livestock Sales in Rio Grande City.

      He said while ranchers are able to feed their cattle hay"it is just not enough to keep them healthy.

      "It's a filler and not a fattener, Rodriguez said. You have to supplement with molasses in order to keep your cattle in shape so they don't lose their condition."

      While it is not the best source of nutrients---Salinas will continue feeding his cattle hay until rain replenishes their main source of food.