Drought affecting livestock and hay in Shelby County


by Lauren Walsh, WTTO/WABM/WBMA/ABC 33/40

September 19th 2019


A lack of rainfall is affecting farmers across central Alabama.


While parts of Alabama are abnormally dry, part of Shelby County is in a severe drought.


“We didn’t get any rain for much of July and august, so no rain, no grow,” said Farmer John Deloach.


Farmers like Deloach are feeling the price of no rainfall.


“It’s tough because it affects your crops,” he said. “It affects everything. It’s probably one of the most stressful jobs anyways, so it affects everything.”


Deloach raises cattle for beef production. He's having to start feeding with hay earlier.


Ricky Colquitt is Extension Coorindator for Shelby County. He says farmers have been feeding with hay for six weeks now.


“With the rain missing, we’re also missing a cutting, if not two cuttings of hay that would be stored for winter use,” Colquitt explained.


Farmers wouldn’t normally start feeding with this hay for another month. Beginning early will impact the rest of the year.


“You would typically feed until the second week of March,” explained Deloach. “The grass starts putting out. There’s not going to be enough quantity to get you through the winter, which means people are going to start selling their cows. If they can find hay, they’ll buy some if they can afford it.”


“Long term impact? Once again, back to cost of production,” said Colquitt. “Profitability’s going to be knocked in the head if there’s any to be made this year, even with the livestock assistance program they’re now eligible for. That will not even come close to covering their losses.”


“If those agricultural producers aren’t deriving that income, they can’t reinvest it in that community,” added Colquitt...


more, including video report [2:02 min.]