Oklahoma Ranchers Struggle With Hay Shortage Amid Drought
News 6 - July 20, 2022 6:35 am
The record heat and bone-dry conditions are taking their toll on Oklahoma’s hay production, which is raising the cost for ranchers to buy it for their animals.
Keeping animals cool in heat like this takes a lot of work.
“They like to have their necks sprayed, some of them more than others,” said Katherine Lucas.
She looks after 14 alpacas at her ranch near Collinsville. She said keeping them fed during the dry spell is also a challenge.
“The pasture is just crisp right now so there’s not much out there, which means they will have to eat more hay as you can see Yandu is devouring his,” she said.
Lucas said it can be hard to scrape together the money to pay for hay, especially with prices higher than normal.
“It cost me about 500 to get enough to get me through the whole year. This year it was over 700 to get enough to get through the whole year,” she said.
It’s an issue farmers and ranchers all over are feeling.
Garth VanWyck sells hay that he buys from states like Colorado. He said there are several factors making hay hard to find and more expensive, especially the weather.
“The pastures are drying up due to the lack of rain,” he said. He said folks harvesting hay right now just aren’t getting the yield they normally do.
“Bermuda you’ll get two or three or four cuttings a year and they’re probably going half of that, you won’t get near the amount this year, so therefore you run into a shortage,” he said.
VanWyck said more hay is needed when pastures that are normally used for grazing dry up.
He said farmers and ranchers might have to get rid of livestock.
“I’m a glasses half full kind of guy so I don’t think it’s bleak, I think it’s going to be a matter of downsizing,” VanWyck said.
He said it’s best to find a reputable hay dealer that you trust to avoid things like price gouging.