Although Texas has seen its fair share of rain lately, the lack of forage and hay production from the 2009 drought hit ranchers' and their wallets extremely hard, with hay prices through the roof which caused many producers to cull herds. In an effort to help ranchers keep and feed their cattle during the winter, the De-Go-La Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Inc., helped deliver more than 3,100 tons of hay to producers in ten counties in the Gulf Coast and South Texas area.
"We estimate that we have saved these livestock producers more than $200,000 in hay costs, based on an average market price of $80 per round bale," said Jerry Pearce, De-Go-La RC&D Coordinator. "We are finishing this project by fulfilling the 173 orders of 6,238 round bales."
De-Go-La RC&D is a non-profit corporation that serves 16 counties including Aransas, Bee, Calhoun, DeWitt, Fayette, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Karnes, Lavaca, Live Oak, McMullen, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, and Victoria. The corporation is a volunteer board of directors and local sponsors from each county.
Project Haylift goal was to purchase large amounts of hay and have it trucked in at an affordable price so the producer's average cost was $49 per bale, which is an average of what the hay would cost during a normal rainfall year.
The hay brought in ranged from Bermuda mix, Native Mix, Coastal Mix, and Bahia Mix and were around 1,000 pound bales. Buyers had to commit to buying a full truck load of 30 to 38 bales.
The Coastal Prairie Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI), Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents, and local soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) helped De-Go-La RC&D in promoting the hay lift and in taking producer's orders for hay.
Twin Valleys RC&D in Louisiana and the Ouachita Mountains RC&D in Oklahoma helped locate and verify hay supplies from their respective states.
Normally, the counties that De-Go-La RC&D serves receive anywhere from 24 to 45 inches of rain a year that produces an average of $52 million a year in hay production, but the dry conditions from 2008 to 2009 saw the value in hay production drop to nearly $16 million.
"The hay was able to help me feed the cattle I had left and make it through the winter," said David Frazier, one of the producers in Victoria County that participated in the program.
Pearce said that if producers could even find hay, most was crop stubble or not very affordable which lead the De-Go-La RC&D Council to seek a way to assist livestock producers in their area.
"The RC&D's mission is to provide leadership and coordination to provide quality of life and quality of environment in rural communities," said Pearce.
For more information on the De-Go-La RC&D, visit their web site at www.degolarcd.org or call (361) 570-7138.
Hay brought in by De-Go-La RC&D was delivered to a Jackson County livestock producer.
David Frazier examines hay quality with De-Go-La RC&D secretary, Kim Santos.
De-Go-La brought in good quality hay at a affordable rates for area ranchers to feed their cattle through the winter, including David Frazier in Victoria County. Frazier (left) and Jerry Pearce, De-Go-La RC&D Coordinator, (right).
Photos compliments of NRCS, Jerry Pearce and Kim Santos