Livestock Eating Hay Earlier Than Usual This Year

State agriculture officials are urging farmers with hay to sell to list their crop on Tennessee’s online database. They say supplies are short and livestock producers are already looking to buy the feed for their animals.

Normally at this time of summer, what hay has already been cut is destined for storage, while cattle live primarily off pasture land. But right now, those forage plants aren’t fresh, green and plentiful—instead, they’re dry, brown, and quickly thinning out.

So farmers like Charles Head of Cheatham County have to supplement.

“I’ve got a lot of hay already in the barn, and ‘course I’m feeding now, but when you’re feeding that many it takes a lot of hay to, you know, get them through the winter, especially if you have to feed them from late spring, early summer all the way through, then I don’t know what’ll happen.”

Rain is in the forecast this week, but that’s coming after a very long dry spell. If the precipitation doesn’t turn things around, the cost of feeding his animals may drive Head to sell off a large portion of his herd.

WPLN’s Maria Ochoa Vargas also contributed to this story

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