Poor conditions, supply shortage puts cattlemen behind as they prepare for winter

Poor conditions, supply shortage puts cattlemen behind as they prepare for winter
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 6:54 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2023 at 11:43 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Though they’re remaining hopeful, cattle ranchers are preparing for the worst after being unable to get their second cut of hay.

Cary Sims, the Angelina County extension agent for Texas A&M AgriLife, said, “We need that rain, so we’re still optimistic. We’ve got a lot of time left to make another hay cutting, maybe two if you get really lucky, so we’re remaining optimistic.”

Whether ranchers are able to get another cut makes a big difference.

“If we have to sell cattle, and if we just don’t get any rain, then we just happen to sell out or spend an incredible amount of money shipping hay in,” he said.

According to the Angelina County rainfall records, this year has seen 29.2 inches, which is well under the normal rainfall of 50 inches for Angelina County.

“Most folks got far less than an inch of rain in July, and many other folks haven’t had any rain thus far in August,” said Sims.

With high temperatures, the hay in pastures is sparce, causing stress for the livestock.

Sims said, “It’s hot and dry, and we need grazable acreage for cattle, and we need to put up hay to feed in the winter month when we typically don’t have any grass growing anyways each winter.”

The hay harvesting season typically runs until October or November. To make it until then, with the shortage of hay, many ranchers are letting cattle graze on grass instead.

“Things like clover, rye grass, wheat, oats and others, but that requires an investment, and it’s a risky investment because you’ll be planting in October, let’s say, to start grazing in January,” he said.

As cattlemen worry about what’s next, Sims said it’s still early.

“There’s still plenty of time for some fall rain to get another harvest of hay. We’re eagerly anticipating and hoping that that’s going to be possible,” said Sims.