Hay has become a hot commodity for area farmers.
A drought the past few years in much of the Midwest and parts of Kansas has caused a hay shortage, said Bill Wood, Douglas County agriculture extension agent.
Wood said he had heard that a roll of hay sold for $90 in the Ottawa area recently. The same type of hay bale has sold for as low as $20, he said.
"The shortage made a high demand for hay this year," he said.
The hay is used not only to feed cattle, especially in the winter, but also to feed horses and sheep, Wood said.
Lawrence cattleman Stan Larson has been paying close attention to his hay supply, which feeds 65 head of cattle.
"I'm concerned that I have just about more cattle than I have hay, but so far I'm getting along fine," Larson said.
Drought is the main cause of the shortage, but the snowstorms haven't helped, said Todd Domer, vice president of communications for the Kansas Livestock Association.
"We didn't lose any hay in those snowstorms," he said. "There may be some hay the (cattle) producers can't get to because it's covered up by snow, but the hay supplies are not that much different than it was coming out of the summer."
If severe winter storms continue in western Kansas and spread to the east, the hay supply situation could worsen, Domer said.
Larson said he started the winter season with 300 1,000-pound bales of hay for his cattle. He had 20 bales left over from last winter.
"I calculated what I needed, and I was pretty conservative," Larson said of his hay supply. "I had an inquiry just last evening from someone wanting to make a purchase, and I couldn't help them. I just don't have any to spare."
Other cattlemen haven't had the food supply, forcing them to sell some of their cows, said Rob Gloss, owner of Overbrook Livestock Commission, which has sales every Monday in Overbrook.
"The whole state is affected," Gloss said. "I can't find any extra hay, and when you do find it, it is very expensive."
While hay prices have risen, cattle prices have declined. A year ago, the price of a cow ranged from $51 to $58 per hundredweight, Domer said. This year, the range has been $46 to $52, he said.
"That's not a real dramatic decline in prices, although it is somewhat lower," Domer said.
Other states, including Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado, have had hay shortages during the past few years.
Other factors contributing to high hay prices include a demand for corn from ethanol producers, preventing farmers from supplementing their hay feed with corn without paying more.