Despite recent rainfall, more than half of Missouri is still experiencing some level of drought as of the latest Drought Monitor report, and that has decimated the feed supply for farmers raising livestock.
Missouri hay production is at its lowest level in 30 years. Typically, one acre of pasture produces about 2 tons of hay, the primary feed for livestock. This year, the per-acre yield is down about 25 percent, to 1.5 tons.
That has contributed to a shortage reflected in hay prices. Alfalfa hay — considered the best hay for cattle — is selling for $160 per ton, up from $150 last year. Non-alfalfa hay is going for $105, up from $85.
It leaves some farmers facing the prospect of withholding their own pay so they can buy feed.
Scott Brown, a professor with University of Missouri Extension, has encouraged farmers to consider other feed sources for their livestock.
But hay isn’t the only feed being hit hard by the drought. Corn growers also have reported subpar yields, and some have opted to use corn as winter feed for livestock rather than selling it.
Read more: St. Louis Public Radio