The late summer drought in the South cut hay production and forced livestock farmers to trim herds or search quickly for an economical way to feed them, according to Indiana-based The Republic news. With scarcity of product and spiking cost, many farmers turned to annual ryegrass as a winter forage crop.
“We planted about 300 acres with some help from the Natural Resource Conservation Service program,” said Ronnie Magee of Decatur (Arkansas). “We had to do it because our hay production was off about 40 percent this year. The annual rye grass we planted is up and looking pretty good.” Magee has about 400 head of cattle to feed through the winter.
Farmers were able to apply for a cost-sharing initiative that helped defray the cost of planting annual rye grass pasture atop dormant Bermuda fields.
Those who took part averaged about $120 per acre in stipends to defray the cost of seed, lime, fertilizer and equipment rental for sowing the seed. He said the programs aim to cut farmer expenses 50 percent to 75 percent.
“It does cost farmers to apply the seed, but I don’t think it’s any more expensive than buying hay, that’s if you could find any for sale,” Magee said.
“I believe it’s going to pay off for us if we don’t have another extreme winter and spring. We will probably have to start feeding our hay reserves sometime in January.”
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