Farmers in the Ozarks feeling hay shortage during winter prep

Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 4:50 PM CST
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - With the first significant winter storm threatening the Ozarks, school districts, road departments, and farmers are preparing for what might accumulate in the coming days.

Amid hay and feed shortages that have been felt in recent months following severe summer droughts, local feed stores are working to keep up with high demands as livestock herders get ready.

“I mean, it’s been an increase for sure people want hay, straw,” said Mandy King, manager of Powell’s Feed and Milling. “We’re running low on a few things, but we’ve got orders coming in daily, so I think we’re going to be stocked up good. Tank heaters for sure for the water and fuel pellets, things like that.”

Powell Feed and Milling was very busy Monday, with many farmers looking for hay, cattle cubes, and various de-icers. It has been operating out of Green Forest, Ark., since 1942, saying this year has been one of the toughest to get through following the drought conditions seen earlier in the summer.

“People definitely come in and definitely stalk up on their feed, heat bulbs, and tank heaters at this time,” said Kennedy Gregory with Powells.

Fred Woehl has been a longtime farmer in north Arkansas, tending to various livestock, including cattle, goats, and horses.

“Friday morning, the temperature being below zero and a strong wind that is going to affect a lot of stuff, and it has got a lot of people worried right now,” he said.

Woehl currently has a small headcount to look after but says conditions have led several large cattle farmers to take drastic measures.

“Well, one of the big things about wintertime is you have to feed hay because hay is what generates heat for a horse, for a goat, for a cow,” he told KY3. “Well, we’ve had a hay shortage this year, and there’s a lot of folks I know that have reduced the number of cattle they have because they haven’t had enough hay.”

Many feel that shortage is only amplified during the winter months, especially when storms are possible. Nobody wants to be under-prepared in the case of severe weather, but some shortages can’t be overcome.

“So it’s going to have to be a management that we’re going to have to do,” said Woehl. “The people that are going to have to get out there and take care of them, they’re going to be cold too. So it’s going to be kinda bad.”

Feed and Grain stores say your best bet is to prepare as early as possible, so they can get orders in if inventory isn’t available.

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