Ohio Valley farmers concerned over hay shortage caused by abundance of wet weather


Scott McCloskey, The Times Leader (OH)

Mar 11, 2019


WHEELING — An abundance of wet weather in 2018 has created concern about a potential shortage of hay for area farmers to feed their livestock through spring of this year, and West Virginia Extension Service experts are offering advice for managing dwindling hay supplies.


Farmer Dale Sampson, who has owned a feed supply store along North Fork Road just outside the West Liberty since 1960, said the unusually wet local weather over the past two years has made it much more difficult to produce good-quality hay. As a result, he said many area farmers have to rely more on buying nutritious grain to help feed their livestock properly.


He said it has been one of the worst hay shortages he has seen in many years. He said the problem has been compounded by the fact that wet weather makes it more difficult to store enough nutritious hay. Farmers are having to stretch their resources to keep their livestock healthy.


“The past two years have been a disaster,” Sampson said.


He added that it’s also been difficult for cattle to adapt to the unusual weather conditions. Sampson said more and more farmers are using additional grain as a supplement for feeding their cattle in an effort to keep their herds healthy.


“The problem this past year is the hay was moldy because they weren’t able to get it dry … and it was a little bit tougher when they baled it,” Sampson explained, noting a lot of hay was not edible for livestock. “There’s really nothing anybody can do about it. The weather conditions have affected it all.”


Bill Childers, who owns a 150-acre farm near Dallas in Ohio County, said while the wet weather conditions have affected his farm, he was fortunately able to put enough hay aside to feed his livestock through this summer. He said while he was able to store enough hay inside a building for this season, the weather did affect the quality of the hay. In addition, he said he hasn’t been able to sell as much hay to other local farmers because of the need to keep backup supplies for his own livestock. He noted that the rainy conditions last summer made it difficult to find a three-day stretch of dry weather in which to cut and bale hay properly.


“If you looked back, you would see what chances we had of getting three days in a row that were dry,” he said.


In addition, Childers said the price farmers are getting for beef these days doesn’t allow much room for buying grain...