East TN cattle farmers feeling impact of drought-like conditions


by: Kirstie Crawford, WATE (TN)

Oct 2, 2019


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Several farmers filled the Knoxville Livestock Auction room Wednesday afternoon, but many didn’t buy cattle.


One of the reasons: The dry weather.


“If it wasn’t so dry, we’d probably be more interested in buying some, but with the drought conditions we’re probably gonna hold off right now,” Bill Loy, a cattle farmer from New Market, said.


Loy and his family have been raising cattle for more than 40 years.


He said he hadn’t seen similar dry conditions as it is now since 2009.


“It’s a long time until the next spring so we’re not sure if we’ll have adequate pasture and hay to feed all the cattle that we do have on hand to begin with,” Loy said.


He’s been lucky so far this season, not having to dip too much into the winter hay reserve.


If East Tennessee doesn’t receive much more rain, then he won’t be so lucky anymore.


“When the grass gets eat off close then, they don’t have any choice but eat the hay so, it’s going to take more if it does stay dry,” Loy said.


With perfect farming weather, Loy said he doesn’t have to use hay until late October or November, sometimes not until December.


Jason Bailey, manager at the Knoxville Livestock Auction, said fall grass typically regrows this time of year, but even weeds aren’t growing.


“Unless we’ll get some rain real soon, it’s going to be too late for the pasture to recover. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed that maybe we’ll get some more rain and we’ll get some fall grass growing. But yeah, it’s becoming really, really a big problem,” Bailey said.


He said farmers will have an even harder time closer to winter if the weather stays dry.


Most farmers don’t budget for extra hay, and pay the consequences later...


more, including video report [6:01 min.]