BOIS D’ARC, Mo. — The record breaking heat is making it hard even for the toughest farmers and their livestock.
“You try to do most of your physical labor in the morning or late in the evening when it’s cooled off a little bit,” Matthew Hancock said. He runs Heritage Farm & Dairy with his wife Taryon Hancock. Originally, it was Matthew’s grandparents farm back in 1954.
With this heat, Matthew and Taryon have changed what they feed their cattle.
“We’re basically a grass based dairy, which means our cows are basically out on pasture all the time,” Matthew said. “We’ve planted some sedan and it’s been so hot and dry that we’re afraid it can be poisonous to the cows. So we’ve had to keep them off of it right now till we get rain.”
Matthew said the cows are now forced to eat hay.
“We probably had them off rotational grass for about 30 days now,” Matthew said. “We’re feeding hay that we’re not going to have in the winter. It’s a long time when you’re feeding hay to supplement and stuff when you’ve invested all the money in the grass that’s supposed to be growing.”
The Heritage Farm cows are spending their days in one of the barns with sprinklers on them. But when it’s this hot out, Matthew said the cows don’t eat as much.
“We’ve probably lost I’d say 25 percent [milk] production,” Matthew.
The Hancock’s sell milk at their store off their farm. Now, they say they’re running out quickly.
“I sell in anywhere between 30 to 50 gallons when I’m open on Tuesdays and Fridays,” Taryon said. “I just didn’t have enough to make 30 to 50 gallons, so we had to close the store [for the day].”
As a farmer, Matthew said you look ahead. This year, looking ahead means uncertainty.
“It’s time to be cutting corners and pinching pennies,” Matthew said. “That’s a lot of [the] conversation that we have right now is how can we make things cheaper and not spend any extra money. It’s a little scary when you’re in a drought and you’re limited on what you’re getting anyway.”