East Texas ranchers upset over high hay prices

high hay prices due to drought
high hay prices due to drought

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Texas agriculturists don't want any storms to place hardships on anyone, but they are hoping some sort of bad weather out in the gulf will eventually bring rain.

The drought has presented 2 critical needs to Texas livestock owners.

In Texas, by 9:30 in the morning, most all livestock is hunkered under a shade tree.

Hyman Boozer knows burned up pastures leave little for grazing. "When you see them out in this heat grazing you know they're hungry, so it is good they're laying down right now," said the Nacogdoches County rancher.

So ranchers are resorting to hay. The trouble is there's none to be found, anywhere close that is.

"We're hauling hay in from Mississippi. We're fortunate enough to find some down in Beaumont, Lake Charles area. And then we bought alfalfa, most of it comes out of South Dakota," Boozer said.

Boozer is waiting for a shipment of hay this week that he's paying dearly for.

"Between $70 and $100 a bale. At some point in time you can't continue doing that," he said.

Just as bad as the hay problem is the water situation. Ponds that haven't dried up are muddy and of poor quality.

"We're having to use watering troughs and keeping them full everyday," Boozer said.

Bone dry ponds do provide an opportunity for helpful dredging. That's beneficial when it does rain.

"Where they're cleaned out compared to all the silt that has run in to them over the years," Boozer said.

Texas agriculture officials say the drought has created a $5 billion dollar loss in agriculture revenue.

"As far as livestock numbers, total cow numbers in the county, we're down 50% of what we were. That number may go up," said Crispen Skinner, Texas Agrilife Agent.

Boozer sold most of his calves early, but he's holding onto about 300 head.

He knows once it does rain cattle will cost so much it would be difficult to get back in the business.

As far as the price of beef in the grocery store, there's little fluctuation.

Right now, steak is pretty pricey.

It could possibly come down as more people get back into the livestock business.

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