Hurting For Hay

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Ray Field is the owner of The Wild Horse Foundation in Franklin. To him, and many other farmers and ranchers, hay is the new Texas gold.

"Finding hay is like finding a needle in a hay stack, it is tough to find," said Ray Field, Wild Horse Foundation.

The drought across the state choked off regional hay supplies. The reason is two fold, production was already down because of scant late-summer hay crops and now demand is up because winter grass and small grains haven't grown because of the lack of rain.

Field, and others, are struggling to feed their livestock and balance the books.

"It's a very important part of their diet everyday, they need it to survive like we do. Those non-profit organizations like myself, we're on a limited budget we have so much money to deal with and it makes it tough on us," said Field.

Field compares the price of hay to the price of gasoline during the recent hurricanes, a bale used to cost about $35 but now it can be priced at over $100.

"We watched gas go up .65 cents a gallon overnight, it's supply and demand. Those that have it can charge what they want," said Field.

The Texas Department of Agriculture has set up a hay hot line and put a hay database on their website to connect hay seekers with hay suppliers. But Field says, many ranchers are still running into problems.

"A lot of people have trash hay and you can't feed trash hay to animals that depend on it for their lively hood," said Field.

It will take several good rains to change the conditions and the forecast doesn't seem to be in their favor. Local ranchers will have to be creative when it comes to balancing the budget and feeding their herds.