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The Cost of Hay for Farms

Updated on November 13, 2014

Unless your a vegetarian, your food prices are rising. The cost of meat from cattle that provides hamburgers, steaks, and ribs has had dramatic rises. Chicken and pork meat have also risen. Buy why, you ask?

Climate change does impact our food supply and there is no easier way to see this than in the historic drought conditions of California. It is the worse in over a century. In other places, it is too much rain. But, in either case, both have a real impact on crops and meat supplies. The drought impacts directly on the cost of hay-the main staple of food for cattle. Without food for cattle, there is less meat for human consumption and when there is less meat, market prices rises. The same applies to chicken and pig feed, all based on grains. If crops that produce grain are less, feed prices go up.

The impact of the drought in California has caused the price of hay to zoom from $9 a bale, to over $20. A 100 horses or cattle can easily consume $400 a day in hay. California is in its third year of drought, this means the costs to grow barley, oats and wheat is also rising because water also costs. If there is a lack of water, the price for the water rises causing the a rise in crops grown. The farmer who buys wheat pays more and the consumer ultimately pays. The cost of bread continues to rise to an average load costing $4-5 because of climate change impacting food growing regions. Milk dairies also face the rising prices. They face the dilemma of having less milk cows in exchange for hay, or vice versa. Hay for milk cows costs $10,000 every 20 days. The 26 tons for the money is vital for good milk production. A typical dairy uses this load amount every 10-20 days and costs $30,000 per month. Horses that normally graze on the land are finding nothing to graze on and force the owners to spend additional money for hay. The additional costs forces many to sell their horses.

Some farmers are growing their own hay. To grow 1200 pounds of hay uses 335 gallons of water a day. Some alter their planting times to get the most of storms rolling in. As you can see, climate does greatly impact food production and the California drought shows the impact.


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