NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP)- Hay is in a great shortage that's causing ranchers across the country added stress, wondering how they're going to feed their animals that in turn feed the world.
A cause and effect cycle was set into place last year when high amounts of rainfall flooded hay meadows and made it difficult to cut hay.
A drought in southern states meant that surplus hay in Nebraska was purchased to help other ranchers get by.
A longer and colder than average winter has called for rancher's to feed livestock ample amounts of hay in order for them to stay warm in freezing temperatures. This pattern has ultimately led to the low supply and high demand market that we're now seeing for hay.
Extension educator of beef systems Randy Saner says that prices are now higher than he's seen in years.
"Hay prices are about 10 to 13 cents higher than they were in 2018. Alfalfa is about a dollar a ton higher according to the website I was looking at. It's just like supply and demand, as demand goes up, price goes up and that's what we're seeing right now. Supply is going down because cows are eating more hay. Their intake goes up because they're trying to stay warm."" said Saner.
This winter has drained on more than rancher's hay supplies, but on their livestock's spirits and their own as well.
"We're also seeing increased calf loss because this winter has been so rough on people. Even if you think about rancher's mental health, it's rough on them right now. This is their livelihood and this is what they sell at the end of the year. I know a lot of people who get up every two hours to watch cows and make sure they don't lose a calf. If a calf gets cold and he doesn't get up and nurse you have to get him where it's warm," added Saner.
The sooner that warm weather shows up the better for ranchers and their cattle, as new grass will start growing to relieve the demand of feeding hay.