On a typical year, we try to not feed hay to our herd until Thanksgiving. Taking into consideration how late Thanksgiving fell this year, we are excited to say that we did not begin feeding hay until December 2nd.
You might wonder why we would be excited about pushing our hay feeding program back, but it signals several things to us. First, we had grass in the pastures for the cows to eat. This shows that we properly managed the pastures throughout the year. Despite all efforts at good pasture management, you still need rain to delay the need for hay, which brings us to the second reason we are excited.
It was only two years ago in the midst of the most severe drought in Texas history that we were feeding hay throughout the summer. This fact is still so fresh in our memories, which makes it a small victory to not feed hay until December. According to the US Drought Monitor, our section of Grimes county is no longer in any stage of drought. This can only be due the heavy rainfall we experienced in October and November. It is just another reason to celebrate.
Not only were we able to delay our hay feeding start, but we had our own hay cut. We had enough grass to be able to do that, which is such a help financially. Hay prices soared to record highs two years ago as ranchers scoured the adjoining states and beyond for available hay. We had to have hay trucked in from northern Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Mississippi. It was crazy. This year thanks to our rainfall in the early spring, we were able to store up the necessary hay for our cattle and horses from our own pastures.
We also have winter grasses planted and up in several pastures specifically for calves in our grass fed beef program. This will allow them to eat fresh grasses throughout the winter in addition to the hay. They are already enjoying the bright green Rye grass. Before I get phone calls, the rye grass we plant is non-GMO. I checked.
So as we transition into the season of winter in Southeast Texas and all that it entails like bitter cold one day, chilly rain, and warm days in between, we are excited about the state of our ranch. We are doing better than can be expected by entering December before putting out hay. It is just another reason to rejoice.