Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The last straw...

This sure has been a year for the books. We started out with incredible flooding putting hundreds of thousands of acres of  farmland under water and ended with record breaking droughts.  With these tumultuous weather patterns, ranchers throughout the south and southern Midwest states are struggling to find hay for their cattle. What does it all mean?  Let me break it down for you.

For our ranch and many other ranches out there we have two different pasture areas; our summer pastures which are in the flint hills and full of nutritious natural grasses that are rested throughout late fall, winter and spring and grazed heavily from May - September. These are larger pastures and generally consists of grasses that thrive in the excessive heat that Kansas summers can bring.  And then we have our winter pastures that are brome based so the cattle also receive their feed and supplements through bunk feeding. These pastures are located on our home place and are the birthplace to all of our registered cattle

This year, the super excessive heat has dried out many farmers' and ranchers' summer pastures which means less nutritional forage for their cattle.  Couple that with a reduction in the availability of hay due to drought and the affordability of hay due to increasing prices and you've got yourself in quite a pickle.

How did we get here?  Well, there is almost 14% less mixed hay coming off the fields than this time last year. That is the lowest output we've had since the great flood of '93 that put 15 million acres of Midwest farm land under water.  The hay that is being produced is mainly in the northeast side of the Midwest and these farmers are now having farmers and ranchers in the south and troubled Midwest states asking for hay.  In these desperate times, these farmers and ranchers are willing to pay a premium for the available hay but then you have to add in shipping (from Iowa to Texas, for example) so you have the increased fuel prices to boot on these already high hay costs. Supply and demand is a natural Eb and Flo of our economy but when you throw mother nature in there, nobody can predict from year to year. 

Now, with prices being higher for feed and natural grasses getting too dry and burnt up, some cattle farmers have no choice but to sell their cattle early to feed lots.  These larger feedlots are always contracting out their feed at least a year in advance so they are generally set on having enough feed for the amount of animals they can hold.  Smaller farmers and ranchers (like us) try to grow a majority of their feed, (i.e. Corn, hay, wheat) so we only have to depend on others for a smaller percentage of our feed.  For us, in a perfect year, we would only have to purchase distillers grain and mineral to supplement our silage and feed mixture.  This year, we had to find close to 400 round bales to ensure we had enough for our cattle this winter.  Luckily Hoag Sr. always knows a few people to call on for just such emergencies. 

But in the end, this is just another drought in another year and the Farmers and Ranchers of America will rise to the challenge and continue to provide healthy and nutritious meals for you as they have all the years in the past. The biggest difference today is that we don't have the support of the nation rooting us on.  On top of having to negotiate with Mother Nature herself we're constantly being bombarded with HSUS and PETA lies and misleading commercials that are filling the nation's head with nothing but garbage.  We need to rally behind our Farmers and Ranchers, support the small family businesses and say No to celebrity spokespeople who just want you to know the "Truth". You want the truth? Stop by a local farm or ranch and ask the people that live those lives every day. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. 


  1. You tell um Natalie! This was the best one ever. I think it's great that we are getting this information straight from a ranchers mouth!! Thank You

  2. Better watch out, or the Film Actor's Guild will be coming after you!