Drought sends hay prices soaring

Associated Press

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — The cost of feeding horses and cows in California is climbing as the drought sends hay prices to historic highs, a newspaper reported.

Less rain has reduced the acres of oats, barley and wheat being planted, which has fueled a sharp jump in hay prices, the Press-Democrat of Santa Rosa reported Tuesday.

The drought has also led to a decline in grazing land, further increasing the demand for hay and driving up prices.

Tracy Underwood of the Santa Rosa Equestrian Center said she pays more than $20 for a bale of hay these days. A decade ago, the cost was about $9. Underwood said she’s growing her own fodder to cut costs.

“I’m saving $200 a day on hay costs,” she said.

West Santa Rosa dairyman Doug Beretta said he recently sold 40 milk cows to a dairy in Idaho to offset the rising cost of hay.

When grazing land is available, he needs about $10,000 worth of hay every 20 days for his milk cows. When it’s not, he goes through a load every 10 days at a cost of about $30,000 a month.

“It cuts into your profitability,” he said.

The drought is now in its third year.