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Hay Rises in Demand, Prompts Theft from Local Farmers

Walt Hubis
Flickr - Creative Commons

The scarcity and sky-high price of hay is causing worry among some Colorado livestock producers.

It’s also prompting theft in Larimer County, where the sheriff’s office reported on Monday $5,000 worth of hay stolen from a farm on East County Road 76.

The challenge stems from lower supply and increasing demand. Hay producers saw lower yields due to this summer’s drought. Zada Steidl of Blue Sky Farm said she typically gets three to four cuttings of hay per year, but this year she’s only gotten two.

“It’s going into winter and there’s no hay,” she said. “It’s going to become a crisis situation very soon.”

Steidl said she’s received calls from other states asking about her hay supplies. However, she’s already produced and sold her yield for the year.

Demand for hay is on the rise because many cattle producers have limited grazing options this year due to drought. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, range conditions continue to deteriorate across Colorado with 85 percent of the pastures and rangelands in poor to very poor condition.

For its part, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office is recommending that hay be stored out of sight and in a secure location if possible. Smaller bales should be stored near homes, preferably inside a fenced-in or gated area.

Hay thefts aren’t just unique to Colorado. One year ago, a CBS affiliate reported thefts in the Dallas, Texas, area. Rancher James Lockridge told CBSDFW that he lost $26,000 in hay. He told the station:

If you want to steal a bale of hay. We’re going to press charges on you. You get caught stealing hay. You’re going to jail. We’re just not even going to play around no more.

Indeed, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office is signaling that it isn’t playing around either. The agency is asking for tips at 970-416-1985.

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