Hay shortage forcing Heartland cattle farmers to adjust

Hay shortage in Missouri

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Many Heartland farmers who raise livestock are dealing with a multi-state hay shortage that is being caused by hot dry weather.

Two hay producers in Southeast Missouri say it is affecting the quantity and quality of the hay, which in turn can impact the health of cows who produce beef and dairy products on our tables.

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Dennis Hemmon, a beef cattle farmer in Cape Girardeau County feels fortunate to be busy bailing his second cut of hay.

Hemmon said four different farmers approached him Friday afternoon to ask if he had any hay for sale.

Even though prices are up because of demand, Hemmon said he is not planning to sell any yet. Instead he's building his inventory so he can last the winter.

"If you can get $60 for a round bail its awful tempting to sell some cows and sell some hay," Hemmon said. "The hay prices really fluctuate around. Years ago you had a hard time getting $10, $15 for a bail. Now all of a sudden I've heard reports that they're needing hay bad in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas."

Kaitlyn Niederrecker, a nutritionist with Buchheit Agriculture, said hay that is being bailed right now is high in fiber in low in protein.

She said many farmers will be customizing a feeding plan so they can afford to use what they have and keep their livestock healthy.

"Quality is probably the most important thing to consider when you're thinking of hay," Niederrecker said. "The cows will feel full but they are really starving on a full belly, but it's a simple fix. We can say we're going to feed this hay and then add this commodity blend to help meet the requirements of those cows."

Both Hemmon and Kaitlyn Niederrecker are hoping the temperature drops and they get more precipitation so more hay can be produced in late fall.

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