States struggle with quality hay supply

Beef Outlook: Cattle herd reductions are expected as drought lingers in the West.


Scott Brown, BEEF Magazine

Jun 07, 2021


Brown is a livestock economist with the University of Missouri.


Pasture and range conditions are historically poor for this time of year. The national condition rating, weighted by state pasture area or livestock inventory, was at least 43% poor or very poor for the first three weeks of May.


Since 1995, national conditions have only been this poor 8.4% of the time, and never earlier in the year than July until now. For many states, this is the critical time for pasture growth, and conditions may not recover in 2021.


Reduction in hay acres


Examining conditions on a state-level basis, five of the top 14 beef cow states in terms of 2021 beginning inventory, and 12 of the top 34 beef cow states, have conditions at least 40% poor or very poor for the first four weeks of 2021 weekly data. These 12 states account for 40.6% of the national beef cow inventory.


Data for hay stocks on farms as of May 1 agree with drought monitor maps that clearly show the toughest conditions are west of the Mississippi River. Between May 2020 and May 2021, stocks declined by 22.2% for states west of the Mississippi, while growing 28.1% in states east of the river. Stocks declined in 18 of the 22 states west of the Mississippi...


Fewer cattle to feed ...


more, including hay stocks chart