East Texas farmers, ranchers facing tough decisions as hay shortage continues

East Texas farmers, ranchers facing tough decisions as hay shortage continues

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - Some East Texans are facing a difficult decision.

Last month, KTRE reported about a hay shortage caused by the fluctuating weather in our area.

Since then, many have had to sell off livestock due to the shortage.

Harrell Moore has been raising cattle since he was a teenager.

“It was costing so much to feed a cow. I mean there was some cattle that I was spending $6, $7 dollars a day on to maintain them eating alfalfa,” Moore said.

Moore said one of the reasons was that it is so wet that he couldn’t distribute the hay where the cattle would eat about 30 pounds a day. Instead, he would have to put whole bales of hay out on dry areas where the cattle were consuming double the amount.

As a result, he made the decision to sell a portion of his cattle.

“But it was going to be cheaper than maintaining them through the winter so we opted to sell,” Moore said.

Moore said he sold roughly 300 and sent 500 cattle to a feedlot 300 miles from Lufkin.

Adam Jarvis with Jarvis Farm Equipment said the hay shortage this year is the worst since 2011, the year there was a drought.

“I would say this year we’re rivaling some of those conditions. The circumstances weren’t exactly the same because it wasn’t just a drought that caused it,” Jarvis said. “It was actually dry and wet and then the armyworms that we spoke of before. It was the combination of the three but the effect was the same.”

Both Moore and Jarvis said the extremes of weather were big factors for hay producers. From dry to wet conditions and heavy rains in the fall packed with armyworms have been the culprit behind the hay shortage.

“Even in the drought of 2011, you could buy hay. There was hay available in 2011. And there’s really none this year, I mean it’s just been an odd year,” Moore said.

Many farmers and ranchers have had to rely on hay from neighboring states.

The average price of a hay bale ranges anywhere from $90 to a $125 dollars according to the Texas Department of Agriculture.

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