Agriculture officials say heavy rains that have fallen this year may have driven up production costs for Arkansas cattle farmers this winter.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service says 52 percent of Arkansas' pastures are in good or excellent condition. Heavy rains throughout the year largely benefited cattle farmers with plentiful hay.
But excessive rains in north-central Arkansas diminished the crop's nutrient content and will likely require some farmers to rely more heavily on supplemental feed through the winter.
Boone County Extension Agent Mike McClintock said the region received a little too much rain and cool temperatures during hay season.
"We made a lot of volume of hay, but due to a lot of the producers not being able to get it out of the field in a timely fashion, the quality of that hay is much lower, in terms of its nutritional quality," McClintock said.
Fescue hay typically has a crude protein content of about 8 to 10 percent if harvested in late May, but drops drastically as the summer progresses. McClintock said the hay's crude protein content can drop to 6 percent or less by July.
"Those producers that did not stockpile forage are going to start feeding hay earlier than normal for our area," McClintock said. "I think many of them, if they did not test the hay for quality, are going to be surprised and have to start their supplementation earlier as well."
While this won't affect cattle purchasers or retail consumers, producers' net income will suffer if they have to resort to feeding their cows distiller's grain, corn or other sources of supplemental nutrition.