A non-profit agency’s effort to help buy affordable hay this fall for livestock producers in 10 drought-stricken Texas counties has been a success by just about every measure.

Over an eight-week period ending in mid-November, more than 6,100 large round bales of grass hay were bought from suppliers in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana at an average price of $49/bale delivered. Hay bought through the program averaged about $31/bale lower than the going market price in the mid-Gulf Coast region, estimates Jerry Pearce.

Pearce is coordinator of De-Go-La Resource Conservation and Development District, the USDA-NRCS-sponsored non-profit group based in Victoria, TX, that set up the program. (See the Sept. 22 edition of eHay Weekly.)

“The total savings for producers in our area was somewhere around $190,000,” he says, adding that 270 livestock owners were served through the program. “It was a very rewarding experience. We were able to help a lot of people who were in a bind get past a critical point.”

De-Go-La stopped taking new orders from producers seeking hay on Nov. 20. Those still looking for hay can contact the Texas Department of Agriculture Hay Hotline.

“Some pretty nice rains in October” have improved overall forage conditions in the area, Pearce reports. “Pastures look a little better, and some people have even been able to get a cutting of hay. But I wouldn’t say the drought has broken. A lot of our hayfields and pastures were hit very hard. It’s going to take awhile to recover.”