Hay shortage throughout the state poses potential troubles for livestock owners

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Posted at 7:17 PM, Aug 13, 2021

BOZEMAN — The state of Montana has been experiencing a hay shortage, introducing concerns of supply, price, and ‘out-of-state’ problems.

“In May we had really high temperatures, then we went to below freezing temperatures, then back up to 90 degrees for the last two months,” Ty Kraft said.

This year has been unlike anything we have seen in years past in regards to a harvest yield. Ty Kraft is a fifth-generation hay farmer, Kraft Hay & Grain, and recalls heading out to his ‘best’ yielding field.

“We thought that it would be fine, we told all our customers that it was going to be fine…our best yielding fields, that were irrigated, was half of normal. And when you cut those numbers in half, the supply becomes a problem, and paying your bills becomes a problem,” Kraft said.

The amount of hay is not a factor when dealing with time and money, Kraft said. Producing less hay did not cut costs down for Kraft Hay & Grain, thus needing the price of bales to increase to ‘stay out of the black’, Kraft said.

Hay shortage throughout the state poses potential troubles for livestock owners

“We had to raise our prices just to make all our payments and make everything work out,” Kraft said.

The hay shortage is state-wide, and some Montanans are turning to out-of-state producers to fill their needs. But outsourcing hay, introduces the potential problem of weeds and bugs, such as Blister Beetles, Kraft said.

Blister Beetles have been spotted in Montana before, but with more and more people turning to different providers of hay, different variants may be introduced to the region. These beetles, in enough quantities, can be found deadly if ingested by a horse.

Trey Lucas is the Head Trainer and Barn Manager at Gallatin River Ranch and is all too aware of the danger these bugs can cause a horse and owner.

“Their horses can get poisoned by not only the blister beetles, but these weeds as well…do your research as best you can,” Lucas said.

When placing an order for hay, asking when it was cut, if blister beetles are common in the area, and questions along those lines can help a person understand exactly what they are feeding their horse, Lucas said.


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