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Livestock owners fretting over dry pastures, hay price spike

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A mix of bad breaks in the weather this year has led to a hay price spike for livestock owners in Minnesota.

“It is a perfect storm of winter kill of alfalfa, dry conditions most of the summer, which has now led to shortage of quality hay,” Stacy Bettison of the Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition, told WCCO. “And that has led to much higher hay prices.”

Some horse owners say they are spending twice what they spent last year to feed their animals after alfalfa crops did not fare well this year.

The state's cattle operations and dairy farmers are troubled by dry pastures and a hay shortage, the Star Tribune reports. Cows don't have as much field grass to consume, which is the cheapest way of feeding the livestock, the newspaper reports.

Federal data released Monday show that 45 percent of the state’s pasture land was in “poor” or “very poor” condition. That's an improvement from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the arid conditions have put financial pressure on farmers.

Some cattle and dairy farmers had to start feeding livestock hay this summer instead of October or later, the Star Tribune reports. And there's less hay – and higher hay prices – than in previous years as farmers seek to capitalize on higher prices for corn and soybeans, the newspaper reports.

The latest report this week from the U.S. Drought Monitor for Minnesota says that more than half the state is suffering from moderate or severe drought.

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