Dwindling Hay Supply Has Oklahoma Ranchers Worried

Tuesday, March 22nd 2011, 6:14 pm
By: News On 6

Tara Vreeland, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The high winds, warm temperatures and dry grass fueling grassfires, along with the unusually harsh winter, are putting ranchers in danger of running out of feed for their cattle.

Supplies are dwindling and conditions for the growing season are looking dim.

Ranchers said last year was a great year for growing hay. However, they fed much of those stored supplies during the blizzards. Now, it's warm and dry, with no sign of a good rain in the forecast and ranchers are worried.

3/21/2011 Related Story: Oklahoma Cattle Ranchers Seek Hay For Livestock

Ron Hays with the Oklahoma Farm Report says the blizzards provided us with moisture. But ranchers had to feed extra hay to get the livestock through the extremely cold temperatures.

"When we've got the cold temperatures and those types of ice conditions, it takes extra amount of hay to keep the energy levels up," he said.

Ranchers are now dealing with the other end of the spectrum right now.

"Without some rain, fairly soon, we are going to be in really bad shape," Hays said.

The United States Department of Agriculture says the need for rain is the number one concern of producers across the state.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the state is parched; 80 percent of Oklahoma is seeing moderate to severe drought conditions. Northeastern sections are fairing a little. But not for long.

"After we green up a little bit there isn't going to be a lot of moisture to keep them growing," Hays said.

The bottom line is if Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, cattle have nothing to graze on, nothing will grow and the ranchers simply will have nothing to feed.