Dairy farm taking a hit from the drought - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dairy farm taking a hit from the drought

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David and Charles Hannah bought their family dairy from their father and uncle in 1981. It's been a long time since feeding the cattle has been so difficult.    

"Our crops were planted, [but] not enough moisture to get most out of the ground," says David. "Definitely not enough moisture to make them grow."

They rely on field corn to feed the cows, but the stalks are less than half the normal height and not fully pollinating, leading to an 85% loss of the crop. Just four inches of rain in the past three months isn't cutting it.

"It has been the whole growing season that we've had no rain in this area in south Bradley County," says Charles Hannah.

It's the first time they've had to buy from other farmers who are faring a bit better, and their insurance company might have to release the entire farm if the situation doesn't get better. They've filed a claim based on their losses so far.

They're shifting focus away from fading cash crops such as sweet corn and soybeans so their 100 dairy cows don't go hungry, fertilizing what's left of the soybeans to use as fodder.

"They may not make beans, but they'll make hay or they'll make silage," adds Charles.

They'd like to get a second cut of hay this year.

The Hannah brothers can hope and pray for rain until the cows come home, but unless it actually falls here they'll also have to rely on some help from the government. Bradley is one of many counties to be declared a "disaster" because of the extreme drought, making the brothers eligible for livestock feed assistance.

"We've turned in our cattle numbers and pasture acreage. So we're thankful for the assistance that we'll get through that program," says David.

The farm has been in the Hannah family since the late 1800s.

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