Results of a recent Kentucky county extension agent survey show the state's livestock producers are going to need around 1.5 million tons of hay this winter, reports the University of Kentucky Forage News publication. This huge need is compounded by a general shortage of hay across the country and record-high prices. Weather conditions reduced the state's alfalfa hay yields by 50% or more. Cool-season grass-hay yields are said to be down 60-70%. Pasture production was reduced 60-90%. Warm-season pasture and hayfields fared better, but even yields of drought-tolerant native grasses were reduced. The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service is urging the state's livestock producers to lock in hay needs now rather than waiting to see what the market will do.
It has been cool but dry in Texas, and some parts of the state are starting to suffer, according to Texas A&M University extension.
South Plains pastures and ranges were in fair-to-good condition but in need of moisture last week. Cattle were receiving some supplemental feed. Ranchers were starting to stockpile hay in anticipation of a dry winter in the state's Rolling Plains region. Producers have been shipping calves out of the region. Soil moisture was very short to adequate in the northern part of the state. Recent rains left pastures and forage crops in good condition.
Dry conditions prevailed and the hay harvest continued last week in eastern Texas. Warm-season grasses were growing slowly because of cooler night temperatures. Low soil moisture had stopped plantings of winter forages in many counties. Alfalfa began to go dormant in the far western part of the state. Topsoil moisture was very short to adequate. Range and pastures were in very poor to excellent condition.
The hay harvest continued in west-central Texas last week as the area had warm, dry days and cool nights. Soil moisture continued to decline and small grains failed to emerge. Range and pastures were also beginning to suffer from lack of rain. In central Texas, where producers in some counties had started supplemental cattle feeding, low soil moisture was becoming a serious issue.
In southeastern Texas, where hay was being baled, soil moisture remained short but temperatures were mild, giving some relief to dry conditions. Southwestern Texas was also very dry, with less than 1/3" of rain in 62 days. The area missed the typical fall rainy season, and weather forecasts were not optimistic for relief anytime soon. Pastures and ranges began to turn brown and go into early winter dormancy. Continued dry weather resulted in a steady decline in the quality of range and pastures in the Coastal Bend area, too.
The severe dry conditions in southern Texas have not been conducive to cool-season forage production. However, warm-season grass hay is still available and of reasonable quality. If no rains come soon, Texas A&M reports that producers will have to start feeding cattle protein supplements.