Thirsty grass means hungry cattle

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

HUDSON, TX (KTRE) - More than 200 acres of dry, brown vegetation is all that's left of Penn Farms.

"Like they say, people that raise cattle are really grass farmers and we're just not raising any grass right now," said Joseph Penn, owner of Penn Farms. "It stopped growing."

His cattle are forced to graze on what the drought has left behind.

"Grass is short and if we run completely out, we'll start feeding hay," he said.

Problem is the lack of rain has cut hay production in half. There's only 45 bales of hay left in his barn. He normally keeps 90.

"We'll have to buy something to feed them, whether it's hay or some other alternative," said Penn.

Instead of growing his own feed, shopping outside the farm will take a toll on his profit.

"If we get some rain, we'll get out of this hole," he said.

As he looks at his situation, he knows it could be worse.

"Well, no, everybody has to go through this," he explained. "We know a lot of farms out in West Texas and they tell you to handle it."

Even with the scorching sun, parched grass and bone dry conditions, Penn isn't planning a rain dance.

"[I] just do a lot of praying about it and [everything] will come out in the wash," he said.

The rain better come quick. As Penn estimates, what's left may be gone within one month.

Buying hay isn't helping much either, Penn said with a low supply, hay bales cost between $70 to $100 a piece.

©2009 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.