TYLER, Texas (KETK) — East Texas continues to experience drought-like conditions. The impact is now reaching into hay production and quality.

“The hay that we have made this year is about half of what we would have expected for the hay meadow,” said Robin Hood, Hood Family Farms.

Ranchers around East Texas are turning toward more feed and hay to keep their livestock fed during the lack of rain.

“The real problem is we are having a shortage of hay. Mainly because of drought, but the impact of high temperatures is affecting quality, and then, of course, the high-cost fertilizer impacts the quality,” said Dr. Joe Paschal, AgriLife Extension Livestock Specialist.

Ranchers are keeping their livestock in pastures longer to give the grass time to grow back.

“We normally would graze a specific paddock three maybe four days depending upon the grass,” said Hood.

Now the land is being overgrazed.

“Coming back to a piece of grass too quickly, before it has had a chance to recover since the last grazing event,” said Hood.

The above-average heat does not help when it comes to forging hay. On top of overeating the grass, fertilizer prices have jumped leading to hay yields being smaller.

“Those fertilizer costs are impacted hay production because some folks just didn’t put out as much fertilizer to produce as much hay,” said Dr. Paschal.

This isn’t the first time Agrilife Extension Livestock Specialist Dr. Joe Paschal has seen drought-like conditions like this and taken care of livestock.

“The best thing to do is just pen them up, don’t let them all over your pasture. Pick a lot or a trap or a sacrifices area, and bring them in and feed them,” said Dr. Paschal.

Paschal said the best thing for ranchers to do is to send cows to market if they are not productive, get their hay tested to know what supplements to add to feed, and water their livestock in a different way than groundwater.