Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hay Crisis Reaches North Texas, Ranchers Stunned At Shortage



With 75 percent of the state suffering through an exceptional drought, ranchers have begun using words like “desperation” and “panic” when it comes to finding and affording hay to feed their livestock.

“I can’t remember the shortage of hay like it is right now,” Punk Carter said.

Carter is a cutting horse trainer in Celina, in Collin County. For months, North Texas avoided the conditions that farmers in the western and southern parts of the state were dealing with.

But now, the hay crisis has hit the northern counties. Prices, feed stores say, have risen 20 to 30 percent this summer. Some say they’ve gone up even more.

“West Texas, South Texas all around us is just devastated. And, that’s been going on for a while now. So, it’s catching up with us,” Carter said.

Carter owns 30 horses. Hay to feed them now costs him almost $1,000 a month, he said.

One square – a 55 to 65 pound of hay – costs $9.75 right now. Last year at this time, it was $2.00 less, he said.

The lack of rain has withered hay crops.

Robby Sims, one of the managers with D & L Farm and Home said ranchers are calling, desperate for hay.

“You get 20 to 25 phone calls a day. ‘Do you have hay? How much is hay?’ Everybody’s kind of getting to that point where they’re struggling and panicking with it,” Sims said.

And hay isn’t just for horses. Farmers are selling their cattle in record numbers because they can’t afford the hay to feed them. (more)