Dry conditions affecting livestock’s food supply

Dry conditions affecting livestock’s food supply
Cows munching on a supply of hay. (Source: WTOC)

EVANS COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Drought conditions continue to hang over farms and ranches across our region. In Evans County, they haven’t seen measurable rain in about two months.

Ranchers who haven’t seen rain in months say this drought is taking its toll, not only on the livestock and what they’d feed them now, but also what they need to feed them this winter.

The cows in Gary Bell's pasture graze on hay he had to go buy. The stuff on the ground has stopped growing due to the drought.

“I'm 62 and been farming all my life. I've never seen it this dry and this hot for this long,” Bell said.

Most have lost at least one or two cycles of hay from pastures like Bell’s. That means farmers are short on food now. That’s critical as we get closer to the time they breed their cows and the mamas need nutrition to nurse the calves.

“We're already feeding them our winter reserves that we wouldn't want to get in to until close to December,” UGA Extension Agent Ross Greene said.

The drought also keeps farmers from plowing fields to plant winter hay. Feeding them through spring could get tough.

“That’s going to be more costly during the winter to buy hay - if we can find hay - because hay is going to be short,” Bell said.

He says if this continues, ranchers will likely sell of part of their stock they can't feed.

Both say things can still turn around, but it will take plenty of rain to do it.

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