ST. ANTHONY — We all know this year has been wet, and early on all that water allowed crops to flourish and that includes hay.
But now that all that hay needs to be harvested and rounded up, and some of it is trapped in a sea of mud and water.
“We’re not set up for this much moisture. We don’t know how to handle it so to speak, it’s kind of like you’re living in Iowa because they get this much moisture,” said Farmer Richard Tokach.
Bales of hay dot North Dakota’s landscape — too wet to be picked up, causing mold to form inside some of the bales.
“Here we’ve got lots of volume, we just can’t get at it. We can’t get it hauled, we can’t get it into the yards, because it’s been muddy and wet. Now today it’s froze up stiff, which is great to get hay hauled around but everything’s torn up,” said Tokach.
Renae Gress with the NDSU extension service said there’s plenty of hay out there, but the quality is very low.
“Poor quality hay, basically loses some of that nutrient value and content, that the livestock need to consume that hay, and it’s basically less nutritious for them,” said Gress.
And that poor quality could be deadly to cattle.
“If we get cold, like really cold like I’m sure we will, you can feed them as much poor quality hay as you want, and those cows will still starve to death. They can’t consume enough nutrients. So you’re gonna have to spike it up somehow, either with some good quality hay, which I don’t know where you’re gonna find, some distillers, some protein maybe cake or some sort, just to get your nutrient level back up to where the cows can survive,” said Tokach.
In March, North Dakota farmers went out of their way to ship hay to those in need… Now they may need the favor returned.
Last week KX News asked Gov. Doug Burgum if he’ll ask neighboring states for hay.
“During the drought, we had some innovative programs in terms of hay hauling assistance that we provided. We’re gonna be searching under everywhere we can for any positive good ideas to see what we can put in place to address the needs we have here in North Dakota,” said Burgum.
NDSU’s extension service estimates on average a farm needs just under a thousand bales of dry hay per 200 cows to last through the winter.
And even if some farmers had the hay, simply finding enough dry ground to store it is yet another challenge, leaving some farmers wondering if they’ll have enough feed to last the winter.
Because of all the wet weather, the DOT is extending the time for farmers to remove hay bales from state-owned land on the side of highways to Nov. 15. After that, the department will haul them away.