Hutchinson A severe drought in some parts of Kansas and a deep drop in alfalfa production have led to a shortage of hay at a time when demand in the state and elsewhere is sky high.
That has resulted in hay prices that are twice as high as they were a year ago, prompting farmers who in the past exported hay to states like Texas and Oklahoma to keep a tight grip on their supplies.
“This isn’t getting shipped anywhere else,” said Todd Zimmerman, manager of Zim’s Feedlot in Sterling. “This is staying here for our cattle.”
The Hutchinson News reported that some livestock producers are bailing irrigated corn stalks to supply their cattle feeding operations, while others are thinning their herds so there are fewer mouths to feed.
High prices for hay are cutting into the profit margins for beef and dairy producers, and eventually those costs could be reflected in the prices paid at the grocery store.
A low supply of grains worldwide and high demand have pushed wheat and soybean prices up, prompting many farmers to plow up their hay to plant crops that bring in more money.