Hay shortage worries Southwest Georgia cattle producers
September 19, 2006
Lee County -- South Georgia cattle producers are worried about a possible shortage of hay this winter. The summer drought cut back on pasture grasses, forcing some farmers to feed hay they would normally store for winter. Now it's feared many producers will have to sell their herds.
Lee County farmer and cattle producer W.F. Griffin is happy to have another cutting of hay out of this field. This will help him and the other producers he supplies make it through the winter. But many producers will be short because of the drought. Cattle Producer W.F. Griffin said "This summer I talked to a lot of people who fed the hay they harvested. They actually instead of being able to accumulate hay to take them through the winter, they actually did have to feed that hay to get through the summer."
Griffin said most fields have produced only three cuttings this year, as opposed to a usual four or five. That of course means the price of hay is going up. Griffin said "This is about a 16 - 17 hundred pound bale of hay, is going for $150. But transportation costs would be pretty good in moving it."
But Griffin says no matter what the price, some producers may not be able to find enough hay for the winter. Griffin said "Well, We may see a glut on the cattle market. If you can't feed them, you can't keep them."
And if many cattle producers are forced to sell off most of their herd, that will have a big impact on South Georgia's economy, and take a few years to rebuild. Griffin said "When you see a farmer who has to liquidate his herd, then that is something gone for a while."
Griffin said the recent rains have helped, bringing on this last cutting he was not expecting. And every straw will be needed this winter.
Fall army worms also destroyed a number of hay fields in Georgia, making the shortage even more severe.