Kentucky Farmers Persevere Through Drought

Older Kentucky farmers might exit business due to this year's record drought.

Published on: Aug 24, 2012
Pastures, especially those with cool-season grasses, have suffered in the heat and the drought. Lack of adequate summer grazing options forced the Isaacs, and many other farmers in the state, to feed hay to their herd much earlier than normal.

The Isaacs' breeding operation has also suffered with lower instances of successful artificial insemination due to the drought.

"Normally, where we get 80 percent on AI synchronization, I'm only getting 60 percent," Matt Isaacs said. "That makes it hard on me because we have a production sale in the fall, and my customers want superior genetics. I try and offer them that."

Isaacs added that he will have to find another market for the cows that were not successfully bred through artificial insemination and those that aborted their calves due to the heat stress.

The Isaacs' story is not different from what other farmers are experiencing across Hart County and the state, Clark said.

With the corn crop severely damaged by the drought and the heat, many grain producers are chopping their crops for silage and hoping to sell it to livestock producers who are in need of feed.

"We've done a lot of calculations with folks trying to price silage from the standpoint of the grain producer and from the standpoint of the livestock feeder and, somewhere in between, they are negotiating on a price," Clark said. "We also have some custom operators who are offering their services to those who don't traditionally chop their corn for silage."

While the Isaacs plan to continue despite the drought damage, Clark said some other producers in his county might consider exiting farming.