Dry conditions are stressing Texas pastures and winter pasture crops, creating an increasing need for supplemental cattle feeding in parts of the state, according to the Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Service.
The bumper summer hay crop is being fed at a record pace because of poor range conditions in the state's Rolling Plains region. With little winter wheat and pastures that are beginning to play out, producers are being forced to sell calves earlier than expected or send them to feedlots. Yet hay inventories remain high in the area and very small quantities of hay are changing hands.
Southeastern Texas hay growers are searching for fertilizer alternatives due to high prices. Temperatures are in the 40-degree range, which is warmer than normal for the season. Almost no rainfall and persistent winds are stressing winter pastures here, forcing producers to begin feeding livestock. Hay consumption has increased and producers are putting out large amounts of supplements. Numerous wildfires have been reported.
In northern Texas, hay movement is sluggish and stagnant. Some dairymen are prepared to green chop wheat and oats. Wheat has emerged in this area and has responded favorably to good growing conditions, but it and other small grains could use more rain. Rain and pasture conditions are fair, but several grass fires have been reported during the past two weeks.
Conditions are dry to very dry in the Coastal Bend area. Cool-season grasses and clovers are growing well. Some producers were applying fertilizer to winter pastures last week, but many continue to wait for rain. Livestock producers are supplementing herds with hay and protein.
A good supply of hay is available in the Two Rivers, WI, area, says Joey Ney, who has horse hay to sell. But prices are rising as more requests come in from the South. "It is getting expensive to ship hay too far right now because fuel costs are adding from $1.85 to $2/mile to the cost of the hay," Ney notes.
Last year was a good one for hay production, he says. "We got rainfall when we needed it in our immediate area. North of the Rockford/Beloit area we could make good hay. South of that area producers had more challenges from either the wet spring or the dry summer."
In addition to raising his own hay, Ney custom bales for local dairy farmers and horse owners. He sells some of his hay through brokers, but prefers to work directly with end users whenever possible.
Contact Ney at 920-683-2014.