Hay Heads South | VideoCliff Naylor | 2/20/2013
This has become a common sight this winter in North Dakota, trucks hauling tons and tons of hay south.
"I`ll bet if you counted the hay trucks, there`s probably 200 of them or more across Montana that`s hauling hay," said Reuben Toavs from Stevensville, Montana.
Toavs has been hauling hay for 30 years. Since last August, he`s made four or five trips every week to Wyoming.
"Not in my life, I`ve never seen this much hay move," he said.
Most North Dakota farmers have put up just enough feed to get their cattle through winter.
"The upland guys had a pretty good hay crop," said Jason Zahn from Towner.
Zahn says in northeastern Montana, more moisture this past summer also produced a better than average hay crop, and in southern Saskatchewan, many Canadian farmers have a surplus.
"Some of this hay is coming out of Canada," Toavs said.
Highway 83, which runs from the border through western North Dakota and then south all the way to Texas, is the main transportation link for the feed that`s helping get cattle in drought stricken states through the winter.
"You see Canadian hay trucks coming down all the time," Zahn said.
Zahn lives near the border and says his neighbors to the north are concerned that too much hay is heading south, and if the drought continues to move north, they`ll need to buy feed next winter.
"The Canadian ranchers are awful worried about that too. All this hay leaving there, you drought does not stop at the border and they`re pretty worried about it moving it there and having all the reserves gone."
The price tag on this load of hay is $135 a ton, but Toews says some feed is selling for as high as $230 a ton. At that rate, many ranchers in drought stricken states will be forced to sell their herds and get out of the cattle business.
One semi can haul 24 round bales of hay. At $135 a ton, that makes each load Toavs hauls worth over $3,200.