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Veterinarian: "bad hay" is hurting cattle | News

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Veterinarian: "bad hay" is hurting cattle
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A Twiggs County veterinarian and cattle farmer says bad hay that's poor in nutrients is harming livestock across the state, including his.

We told you yesterday about a Hawkinsville farmer who lost 20 cows in less than a year.

He said bad hay was partly to blame.

It's still unclear how much of that if any was caused by hay because the case is still under investigation.

13WMAZ spoke to Dr. Emmett Ashley today about the challenges nutrient poor hay can cause the animals.

A, nutrient poor batch of hay once cost Ashley dozens of beef cows.

"We lost 30, 40 head of cows around here about three years ago," he said.

While he has not inspected ones that appear to be starving in Hawkinsville, he says "bad hay" is a real problem for farmers.

"I''ve been through that. I've had to fight, fight, fight to even be here today for 50 years," he said.

Ashley says what's really frightening for farmers is they don't know what causes bad hay, how to detect it or what other factors are causing cows to fall short of their ideal weight: 1,000 pounds.

"But we never got to the basis of what caused all this and then after that the cows that you have left end up having after birth and you have to review and some of them lose the calves," Ashley said.

He says after a while cattle will even avoid bad hay entirely and eat other plants causing them to become even further malnourished.

"And they've eaten up all these flowers we had up here. We've eaten the green flowers, the cactus, the pinestraw off the trees. The body's craving for something it can't get," he said.

And with cows often costing more than a thousand dollars, Ashley says he's worried about the future of farmers and the beef industry.

"Next year it's going to be a dilemma with this beef," he said. "A lot of people have sold out. A lot of em trying to get back. I don't know what's going to happen here with the beef cow."

The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office is still investigating the Hawkinsville case.

Department of Agriculture spokesperson Mary Kathryn Yearta said a vet visited the farm and are also investigating...but would not comment further.


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