Eight U.S. states, including Wisconsin, have record-low hay stocks (as of May 1). Hay stocks in selected Midwest states are down anywhere from 40 to 65 percent from last year.
“More than ever, it will be critical to work closely with your crop consultant and nutritionist to develop plans to help stretch forages and other feedstuffs,” warns Manitowoc County dairy agent Scott Gunderson. “Conducting an accurate feed inventory and updating that inventory on a regular basis (i.e. monthly) will be essential this year.”
“It may not be too early to review your production records and determine which cows are not paying their way. Beef prices are still strong,” he points out, noting that many producers have already experienced it themselves that when the low end (bottom 5 percent or so) of a dairy herd is sold for beef, overall milk production oftentimes does not decrease that much, if at all.
From USDA’s May 10 Crop Production Report, all hay stored on U.S. farms May 1 totaled 14.2 million downs, down 34 percent from a year earlier – and the lowest overall May 1 stocks on record. Disappearance from Dec. 1, 2012 to May 1 this year totaled 62.4 million tons, compared to 69.3 million for the same winter-feeding period a year earlier.
Record-low May 1 hay stock levels were seen in Wisconsin and its neighbor states of Minnesota and Illinois, along with Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Vermont.
With the exceptions of California, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island and South Carolina, hay stocks as a percent of production fell last year nationwide, according to UW-Extension weekly hay market analyst Ken Barnett. Last year’s historic drought led to a substantial decrease in hay production, and thus beginning stocks for many states. In many areas, limited availability of native feedstuffs forced producers to feed stored feeds their herds earlier than normal. Additionally, the cold wet spring limited pasture growth, causing prolonged dependence on supplement roughage and other feedstuffs in portions of the Midwest, including Wisconsin.
Wisconsin’s May 1 hay stocks at 410,000 tons, are reported down 55.7 percent this year compared to May 1, 2012. The previous lowest point coming out of winter in the past five years was 753,000 tons in 2010, the highest May 1 stocks in the last five years in 2011 at 1,122,000 tons.
Of the selected states, South Dakota actually has the next most dramatic hay shortfall, though not a record. Its change in May 1 hay stocks is off 64.6 percent compared to the same time last year – 850,000 tons, versus 2,400,000 on May 1, 2012. Other selected states’ hay stocks are down as follows: Illinois, by 48.3 percent (at 155,000 tons May 1, 2013); Iowa, down 42 percent (at 290,000 tons); Minnesota, down 45.6 percent (at 490,000); Missouri, down 41.5 percent (at 600,000 tons); and Nebraska, down 43 percent (at 610,000).
Barnett shares in his most recent weekly hay market demand and price report for the Upper Midwest that compared to the prior week, the price of small square bales was up 11 percent, with big round bales up 22 percent, but large square bale prices down 10 percent. He characterizes sales activity as “light to active.”
“For Wisconsin, hay prices were $27 higher on moderate trading at a quality-tested hay auction in Fennimore,” notes Barnett, highlighting alfalfa winterkill that is “severe in some areas, with damage especially heavy on older stands.”
Producers were reportedly deciding which fields must be replanted and feed supplies remained tight,” he notes, mentioning that pastures improved with the warm days and were rated at 3 percent “very poor,” 11 percent “poor,” 51 percent “fair,” 30 percent “good,” and 5 percent “excellent” as of May 12.
Based on dollars per ton FOB point of origin for alfalfa hay, Barnett’s hay price summary in his May 17 Upper Midwest report is, as follows:
Prime hay (over 151 RFV/RFQ) – small squares, $262.08 average, $210 minimum, $365 maximum; big squares, $310.78 average, $290 minimum, $332.50 maximum; big rounds, $277 average, $195 minimum, $305 maximum
Grade 1 (125 to 150 RFV/RFQ) – small squares, no reported sales; big squares, $315.50 average, $305 minimum, $330 maximum; big rounds, $221.67 average, $165 minimum, $290 maximum
Grade 2 (102 to 124 RFV/RFQ) – small squares, $90 average, $90 minimum, $90 maximum; big squares, $296.50 average, $292.50 minimum, $300 maximum; big rounds, no reported sales.
Barnett says hay prices for Nebraska were steady, as of May 17. Ground-and-delivered hay operators reported being very busy grinding or delivering ground product to farmers in that state who were unable to turn out livestock for summer grazing and were forced to buy extra hay. Most were hoping to be on summer pastures the first week of June.
In South Dakota hay prices were steady to $4.15 higher. Demand was good as supply of available hay is “very tight,” he says.
For Missouri, alfalfa hay was $55 lower. Supply and demand were light. “Conditions were also poor for alfalfa to make a strong recovery from the drought or for grass hay to have its best year,” Barnett characterizes. “While the outlook on this year’s hay crop varies from not only county to county but also field to field, the demand for out-of-state hay sales may begin sooner than Missouri hay is baled and ready for sale. Some hay has begun to hit the ground in Missouri with widely varying quality and yields. The stop-and-go early growth period looks to have a lasting effect, and buyers and sellers alike are waiting to see the end result of this year’s crop. New crop prices have not yet been established.”
Hay in southwest Minnesota was $32.90 higher on light sales.
Demand for Illinois hay was good, with moderate to good sales activity. Offerings were light to moderate, hay prices $9.35 higher.
Straw prices in the Midwest, according to Barnett, averaged $3.29 per small square bale (in a range of $2.25 to $5). They were at $37.61 per big square bale (in a wide range of $18.75 to $50). Straw in big round bales averaged $40 a bale (range of $20 to $60). Compared to the previous week, straw prices for small squares were 10 percent higher, but 17 percent lower for large squares. Big rounds of straw were steady.
Barnett directs producers to five sites to obtain more prices for Wisconsin:
Equity’s market report (Lomira and Reedsville locations for hay and straw prices) at http://livestockequitycoop.com/market_reports
Fennimore Livestock Exchange at www.fennimorelivestock.com/index.php?site+home
Reynolds Feed and Supply of Dodgeville at www.reynoldslivestock.com/what1snew
Tim Slack Auction and Realty of Fennimore at www.timslackauctionrealty.com/market%20report.html
Sheboygan County hay auction at Waldo at http://sheboygan.uwex.edu/2012-2013-sheboygan-county-hay-auctions.
Barnett’s next Hay Market Demand and Price Report will be posted May 28 at www.uwex.edu/ces/forage/pubs/hay_market_report.htm.