By Colleen Ferreira
9:15 AM EDT, July 17, 2012
LAKEVILLE - Experts say there's a shortage of hay in the Midwest, and there’s soon to be a severe lack of it in Indiana. The extremely dry weather is to blame.
Because hay is so scarce, farmers are spending extra money to get what they can, or they're looking for creative ways to feed their animals.
Either way, experts say it all means higher prices at the grocery store.
"It’s a difficult situation, some people are going to be scurrying around looking on the internet," said Bill Niedbalski, owner of September Rainbow Quarter Horses.
Niedbalski and his wife, Carolyn, have owned the stables in Lakeville for 30 years.
Niedbalski's hay supplier keeps him stocked, but it comes at price. It's usually $4-$5 a bale, but now the price has almost doubled.
"We feed them two substantial meals, morning and evening," he said.
They have 17 horses. That means food is in high demand. Usually his horses could get a substantial meal from grazing on the pasture. But the lack of rain isn't providing much food out there. Pretty much everything in sight is parched.
"It's never this dry, 1988 was the last time it was close," he said.
Niedbalski remembers a hay scare back then as well.
Right now his supplier has less than half the hay he usually has this time of year.
"My supplier says he's getting 20 percent for his field, meaning for 100 last year. There are 20 bails this time, through," he said.
There's only one thing that can stop this shortage – rain.
But until Mother Nature gives us a week long downpour, the stress and struggles of finding hay will only get worse.
“We have a long term relationship with our supplier, so he'll give us what we need, but he has to cut out a lot of people that otherwise would be able to go to him," Niedbalski said.
Farmers are turning to Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma – many are having the hay shipped in. Those expenses will drive up the cost of food because farmers have to make up the cost somehow.
Any grazing livestock eats hay...so that also includes cattle, goats, and sheep. Because It’s such a staple food, there is always a high demand.
Every year in Indiana, there are at least three harvests or “cuttings” of hay. They just had the second harvest, and basically no hay came from that - so it’s questionable if there will be anymore harvests this year.
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