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Farm animals deal with heat at Ozark Empire Fair

The heat and drought aren't only worrisome to humans, but the effects of the drought have taken hold of farm animals as well.

July 27, 2012|by Aaron Boll, KSPR News | aboll@kspr.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - It just wouldn't be the Ozark Empire Fair without people showing off their farm animals. But the heat and drought are impacting the four-legged creatures that reside under tents and pavilions for the week.

"With the hot weather and drought this year the cattle at the Ozark Empire Fair may be a little smaller than usual," James Sparks, a farmer from La Monte, Mo., said. "[Showing cattle is] kind of like everything else, it gets in your blood."

Sparks has shown cattle at fairs since he was four years old. He's been everywhere from Maryland to California.

But with severe to extreme drought throughout the state, showing animals this year has been a little more of a challenge.

"The grass is not good and the nutrition not there, the corn crops aren't doing what they're doing and when you figure all that up you're going to look at higher costs," Sparks explained.

The weather has forced Sparks to sell off some of his cattle, but these cows are the best of the best. He comes to the fair not just to show for fun -- but it's also big business.

"If you want to sell pure breed cows or pure breed raiders, you got to get out there," Sparks said. "They need to know your name and put a face to your name."

The heat is hard on most of the cattle -- just not too bad for these pampered animals.

"What kind of better living can you have than someone brings you feed and someone rinses you down and makes sure you are cool all day long?" Sparks asked.

Even with the heat there will still be a large lineup of activities with animals at the Ozark Empire Fair. The public is invited to see such animals as pigs, cows, horses and even goats all week long.

As for after the fair, if the drought continues, some farmers may be forced to sell off all their cattle for the season.

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