National Drought Mitigation Center

Are You Impacted by Drought?

Droughts may have direct consequences, such as reduced crop yields, livestock losses, or pond depletion. These direct impacts may then lead to secondary consequences such as physical and emotional stress, or financial insecurity. 

Download PDF to identify impacts on your ranch.

Some of the more common types of drought impacts are listed below.


  • Reduced productivity of rangeland
  • Closure/limitation of public lands to grazing
  • Range fires
  • Increased weeds
  • Disrupted plant communities
  • Decrease in desirable forage species
  • Wind and water erosion of soils


  • High cost/unavailability of water for livestock
  • Reservoir or pond levels dropping
  • Reduced flow from springs
  • Water quality problems (e.g., salt concentration, increased water temperature, contaminants)


  • Forced reduction of foundation stock
  • Decreased livestock gains
  • Greater disease, pestilence, health issues for livestock
  • High cost/unavailability of feed for livestock
  • High livestock mortality rates
  • Disruption of reproduction cycles (breeding delays or unfilled pregnancies)
  • Decreased stock weights
  • Increased predation


  • Inability to Support Ranch Employees
  • Inability to fulfill debt obligations
  • Decrease in capital
  • Increase in debt/asset ratio
  • Borrowing value of land and stock drops
  • Tax penalties from sell down
  • Future price/income risks
  • Watering and feed costs increase


  • Reduction and degradation of fish and wildlife habitat
  • Migration and concentration (loss of wildlife in some areas and too many in others)
  • Loss of wetlands
  • Loss of biodiversity


  • Mental and physical stress (e.g., anxiety, depression, loss of security, domestic violence)
  • Increased respiratory ailments
  • Reduction or modification of recreational activities
  • Off-farm/ranch employment required at higher levels
  • Family Stress
  • Loss of human life (e.g., from heat stress, suicides)