People are selling head cows for slaughter because they can't afford to feed them, and that's sad, Horn said. "But if you can't afford to feed them, that's better than letting them starve to death."
Horn expects numbers of livestock being sold to continue increasing through March or April.
Joe Tamme of Danville makes his living in the cattle business. He buys and sells regularly, but this winter he will buy about half the number he typically would, even though he feels fortunate to have the hay supply that he does.
"I don't ever sell my hay, no matter how much I have left over," Tamme said. "People laugh, but you never know when you might need it."
And his hay hoarding was justified by this summer's extreme weather.
"If we don't have a blizzard every other week," he'll make it through the winter with what he has stockpiled.
"If we do have a hard, early winter, there will be even more cattle sold," Tamme said.
New generation finds hard circumstances
Jacob Spears, a 20-year-old seventh-generation farmer from Moreland, is trying to make a living as a cattle farmer.
"If that's all I had to live by, it would be frustrating," he said.
Spears also works at the stockyards, though, which not only gives him a paycheck, but also helps him track the market and determine good times to buy and sell.
Thursday, he was selling, though, because grass is in short supply and some pond levels are low in his fields. Although he's only been farming for eight years, he's not seen extreme conditions like this.
"It's rough, but it's a lot of fun," Spears said of farming.
This winter may not be the last we see of livestock problems stemming from the drought.
"We're looking for (livestock) prices in the spring to be real high because there's been so many went to kill," Horn said.
Tamme expects cattle to be much thinner next spring, too, because cattle were not consuming what they needed to help them maintain normal weight.
With thinner cows this spring, and fewer of them to go around, Bluegrass South Livestock Market co-owner Bryan Horn said that ultimately means not enough cattle to go around for farmers.
And because prices are expected to increase, he said, anyone able to hold on to their herd until spring sales will be in the driver seat of the market.