The dry conditions in Southern Wisconsin are making things difficult for farmers who depend on pastures to feed their animals.
La Crosse County agriculture agent Steve Huntzicker says farmers in his area are watching plants that looked promising in the spring, but are now shriveling in the heat and humidity. "The less pasture that we have we’re going to have to supplement either with a forage or with a grain and both of those crops are under stress currently in the fields."
Huntzicker says farmers who don’t grow their own feed, or find their reserves low, will find that purchasing hay or grains will be expensive, and hard to come by. UW Extension Grazing Specialist Rhonda Gildersleeve says animals are polishing off what’s already sprouted in the pastures. She says new plant growth is unlikely without some rainfall. "Most of our plants are in dormancy mode so its going to take a while for them to get out of dormancy mode," she says. "And it takes a little while for growth to occur. But, you know if we started getting rains again, we’ll have pasture again later in the summer and fall, but right now its really critical for us to get that rain."
Gildersleeve says 12-to-15-thousand farmers in the state use pastures as a feed source for their animals, .