Hay shortage could spell disaster for cattle herds - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Hay shortage could spell disaster for cattle herds

COLLINSVVILLE, OK (KOTV/CNN) - Severe drought in Oklahoma has led to dramatic hay shortages across the state, leaving livestock underfed and prompting many to sell off their herds.

In 40 years of baling hay, Louis Keith has never seen conditions as bad as they are right now in the state.

"Crackles and pops and everything," he said as he walked over what was left of the grass.

It's hot, it's dry, and it's a far cry from the usual hay production.

"Right now they're probably about as bad as they can get," he said.

With very little moisture, Keith is baling what he can off of a field north of Collinsville, but it's only half of its normal crop. And many hay producers in the area aren't even this fortunate.

"People are calling me. I probably could have sold four or five thousand round bales in one week there if I'd have had them," Keith said.

With hay supplies dwindling, many Oklahoma ranchers are selling off their herds. This week, the Tulsa stockyards moved 3,385 heads of cattle, up more than 200 in just one week, and about 1,500 more than this time last year.

"I think it's pretty serious, I think it's really pretty serious," Keith said.

So serious, Governor Mary Fallin issues an executive order giving trucks bringing hay to Oklahoma an extra foot of width, which enables them to haul double the number of round bales.

The state has an online hay directory, but the list is shrinking as the drought continues.

Keith said it's a dire situation and is only getting worse.

:Pray that we get some moisture and if we're able to get a second cutting, why good, but if we don't, why, it's going to be a bad deal going through the winter," he said.

Meanwhile, an Oklahoma said she has an idea that could solve the hay shortage. She said if horse owners get together and create a co-op, they could find affordable hay in other states and bring it back to Oklahoma.

She said she's already spoken with providers in Ohio, Idaho and Tennessee who have extra hay they are looking to get rid of.

Copyright 2011 KOTV via CNN. All rights reserved.

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