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 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
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Attend Western Hay Business Conference and Expo This Month
Top of the News New Texas Center For Equine Business Studies Is Planned Edible Foot-And-Mouth-Disease Vaccines, Produced In Alfalfa, Are Tested 2004 Illinois Dairy Producer Profits Increased
State Reports Louisiana Texas Virginia
Events Workshops Available for Former Peanut, Tobacco Producers Calendar
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Attend Western Hay Business Conference and Expo This Month
Now's the time to make plans to attend the Western Hay Business Conference and Expo, Nov. 29-30 in Loveland, CO. The innovative conference is designed specifically for commercial hay growers. Informational seminars will help hay growers improve marketing skills, combat rising costs and expand hay sales. Nearly 50 exhibitors will be available to answer producer questions at the hay industry-specific trade show.

Program speakers and topics are:
  • Opening an Alfalfa Market in Vietnam -- Ron Anderson, National Hay Association, Ellensburg, WA
  • Designing Specific Hay Products to Boost Hay Sales to the Dairy and Horse Markets -- Ken Vaupel, president of Alfagreen, Toledo, OH
  • Marketing Bagged Hay Silage to Large Dairies -- Jared Anderson, hay grower, Haxtun, CO
  • Demand for Organic Hay Soars, But Is It Worth the Trouble? -- Bill Wailes, Colorado State University (CSU) dairy specialist; and Barney Little, hay buyer for Aurora Organic Dairy
  • Selling to the Fast-Growing Horse Market -- Tim Stanton, CSU feedlot specialist; and Don Kurtz, Colorado hay grower
  • Designing Alfalfa for Better Performance in Dairy Rations -- Joe Bouton, director of the Noble Foundation's Forage Improvement Division; and Mike Velde, alfalfa breeder, Dairyland Seed
  • Getting the Most Alfalfa Out of the Least Water -- Dan Smith, agronomist with CSU's Extension Service
  • Computerize Your Hay Business -- Fred Darland, Hay Software Inc., Mendocino, CA
  • Ready or Not, Roundup Ready Alfalfa Is Here, But Is It Right for You? -- Bob Wilson, weed specialist, Panhandle Experiment Station, Scottsbluff, NE; and Mark McCaslin, president of Forage Genetics
  • Conservation-Friendly Seedbed Establishment -- Bob Wilson, weed specialist, Panhandle Experiment Station; and Bob Leonard, hay grower, Brush, CO
  • RFV Vs RFQ and Ways Around Variable Lab Tests -- Glenn Shewmaker, extension forage specialist, Idaho State University; and Don Meyer, president of Rock River Laboratory, Watertown, WI
The conference will be held at the Ranch Event Center. The cost to attend is $150. Call 1-800-722-5334 to register, or go to

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Top of the News
New Texas Center For Equine Business Studies Is Planned
Texas A&M University recently announced plans to create a new Center for Equine Business Studies. Its purpose: to establish a national horse inventory database and conduct research and analysis on the $112 billion industry. The center will be part of the Texas A&M University System Agriculture Program and be headquartered on the College Station campus.

At this time, says Ernie Davis, Texas A&M professor emeritus and center director, "there's no inventory data for horses. It's the only major agricultural commodity that doesn't have market data reports." Besides data studies, the center will be doing economic impact studies for legislation, and look at other variables, such as the cost of preventing diseases and determining if prevention is greater than the cost of the disease," Davis adds.

The U.S. is home to about 7.1 million horse owners. The equine industry has been fueled by increased participation in pleasure riding and reigning, cutting and team roping, penning and trail riding, Davis says. "We also plan to conduct demographic research studies to further evaluate the different types of individuals involved in these activities."

No state or federal funds will go to the center, he said. Membership fees from equine companies and breed associations would fund the center and research programs. According to Davis, the new center will be for all breeds and performance groups.

Contact Davis at 979-845-1705, or email

Source: Texas A& M University.

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Edible Foot-And-Mouth-Disease Vaccines, Produced In Alfalfa, Are Tested
Argentine scientists are experimenting with an edible "vaccine" in transgenic alfalfa plants that could offer Foot and Mouth Disease protection, reports the SeedQuest Web site. Vaccines produced in food crops wouldn't require refrigeration or strict cold storage, making them stable and ideal for use in developing countries. To date, vaccines for six infectious diseases: diarrhea, Norwalk virus, respiratory syncytial virus, rabies, Hepatitis B and measles, have been successfully expressed in plants.

María J. Dus Santos, Instituto de Virología, and colleagues from Buenos Aires, Argentina, used Agrobacterium transfer to introduce the gene for one of the Foot and Mouth Disease virus' proteins into alfalfa plants. The result: a transgenic alfalfa that produced the virus polyprotein. Researchers then fed the transgenic crop to mice to induce a weak immune response in them, prompting the mice to produce antibodies to the Foot and Mouth Disease virus. When exposed to Foot and Mouth Disease, none of the mice became infected.

Source: SeedQuest Web site.

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2004 Illinois Dairy Producer Profits Increased
The average Illinois dairy producer's pocket was heavier -- with total returns per cow increasing by $753 in 2004 as compared to 2003 returns, says Dale Lattz, University of Illinois extension farm management specialist. Those returns were the second highest in the last two decades.

"Record-high milk prices more than offset increased costs, resulting in total returns for dairy producers exceeding total economic costs in 2004," says Lattz. "The average net price received per 100 lbs of milk in 2004 was $16.37, which was more than the total costs of $15.30. On a per-cow basis, total returns from milk were $3,189 compared to the total cost to produce milk of $2,980 per cow." Total returns have exceeded total economic costs only four times in the past 10 years, he adds.

Milk production per cow averaged 19,480 lbs, 127 lbs more per cow than was produced in 2003. The average net price received for milk was $16.37/cwt -- $3.86/cwt, or 31%, higher than the average price received in 2003. "Based on 19,500 lbs of milk produced per cow, this increase in price increased total returns per cow by $753," says Lattz. "Dairy assistance payments from the Farm Service Agency and patronage returns related to the dairy enterprise were not included in our figures. This would add about 55 cents/cwt of milk produced to returns."

Producers also faced increased feed and non-feed costs. Feed costs in 2004 averaged $7.61/cwt, compared to $6.95/cwt in 2003. Non-feed costs were $7.69/cwt in 2004 compared to $6.67 in 2003.

The study was prepared from data generated by the Farm Business Farm Management Association (FBFM) throughout Illinois. The complete report can be found online at farmdoc at: Click on "Costs to Produce Milk in Illinois."

Source: University of Illinois.

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State Reports
The recent hurricanes have reduced the horse hay market in Louisiana, says hay producer James Carroll of Majestic Farms, located in the northeastern part of the state. "We sold to stables serving the two racetracks in New Orleans and Lafayette before the hurricanes," Carroll explains. "The New Orleans racetrack is gone now. We think it will come back soon, but for right now we are using what little surplus hay we have after this dry year for our own breeding stock on our horse farm." Carroll raises both Quarterhorses and Friesians. He produces small square bales of Russell bermudagrass tailored specifically to the horse market.

He has been frustrated by an unusually dry hay season. "We haven't had a good rain in northeastern Louisiana since Memorial Day, because the hurricanes sucked the rain to the south and to the east," he says. "Our area has been declared a disaster area and we are 80% below our normal rainfall right now." Carroll says this dry year followed an extremely wet 2004 haying season. "Last year we only harvested three quality cuts because we had 48 straight days of over 1" of rain per day. We went from building an ark last year to a total dust bowl this year," he says. "We spent the money on fertilizer and nutrients to make the hay what it needs to be, but without water we don't have the quality we would like to see."

Contact Carroll at 318-235-4401.

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Texas cattle producers are already supplementing feed because of dry pastures in parts of the state, according to the Texas extension service. Joe Paschal, extension livestock specialist in Corpus Christi, says many Texas pastures need moisture. "We haven't received significant rainfall since May," he explains. "Pasture conditions are pretty poor, and ranchers are already feeding hay."

In southern Texas, enough forage is usually available until October. But this year feed was supplemented much earlier, Paschal says. "I've seen a lot of hay moving up and down the highway since August," he notes. "For two and a half months we've been moving hay around this country."

Producers should supplement wherever pastures are low to avoid nutrient deficiency and keep resources intact, Paschal says. "That's the best thing they can do. If people aren't supplementing, not only are they hurting their cattle, they are also hurting their pastures. Those cattle are going to look for something to eat ... they'll tear a pasture down to dirt if you let them."

Many producers are also considering whether to cull cattle to reduce feed costs, Paschal said.

Producers in other parts of the state were more fortunate this year. Late rainfall in most of western Texas helped cattle operations, says Bruce Carpenter, extension livestock specialist in Fort Stockton. "There's not much supplemental feeding going on right now," he says. "We made a pretty good forage crop this summer, and the rains came along just in time."

Eastern Texas hasn't had any rain since Hurricane Rita passed over. Burn bans were reinstated in some counties. Winter pasture planting was on hold until it rained again. Growth was retarded in planted pastures. Cooler nights slowed warm-season forage growth. Some producers sold livestock and fed hay. Many hayfields were lost to the storm and producers are unable to get their last cutting.

In the Texas panhandle region, soil moisture was short to adequate last week, with above-average temperatures and some reported rainfall. Corn harvest was 96% complete, with good yields reported. Flea beetles, armyworms and grasshoppers caused stand loss for some crops. Rangeland conditions were rated poor to good. Fire danger was high. Cattle were in good condition. Supplemental feeding increased in the area.

In the southern plains, soil moisture was adequate. Pastures and rangelands were rated fair to good. Cattle conditions were good; supplemental feeding was limited.

Short supplies of hay and water in northern Texas are causing producers to consider reducing herds. Pastures and rangelands were rated very poor to poor. Corn harvest was complete. Armyworms were reported.

Pleasant temperatures and recent rain in far western Texas have kept livestock and rangeland in good condition.

In west-central Texas, dry conditions produced low-protein hay, but rangelands and pastures showed some improvement and good growth.

Soil moisture has been very short in central Texas. Pastures, rangelands and livestock need rain. Hay is in short supply.

Dry conditions forced most hay baling to stop in southeastern Texas last week. Hay quality dropped due to hurricane damage. Cattle marketing was difficult because sale barns were damaged as well. Soil moisture has been short.

Forage availability remained below average in southwestern Texas. Recent cool weather helped conserve moisture. Land was prepared for small grain planting, but planting was delayed due to the dry fall.

In the coastal bend region of the state last week, forage suffered from lack of water. Yet, some hay was cut and cattle were in good shape.

In southern Texas, soil moisture has been short and ranchers were stocking up for winter feeding.

Although some Texas producers have been luckier than others, all will be supplementing feed during winter. And that is expensive, says extension livestock specialist Carpenter. Before buying supplemental feed, consider his advice: "Start pricing it ahead of time. Plan ahead for feed purchases and make sure you get out and look at your pasture. Frost is coming quickly, and it is a good time now to walk around and see how much forage is available for your cattle."

Source: Texas A&M University.

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Hay supplies are a bit short for the horse market in Virginia, says Charles Roff, Old Dominion Hay Company Inc., Smithfield. "We've had a lot of warm weather, so the hay market hasn't really picked up. People are buying hay as they need it," Roff explains. "Of course, transportation costs are having a big effect on hay demand and there is some grumbling about high prices." Because there hasn't been a hard frost on pastures in the area, horses are still able to graze and not need much hay.

Roff sells to horse owners and to some cattle producers. His horse customers buy small bales for easy handling. Because they don't have much available storage, horse owners buy on a weekly or monthly basis. Roff buys most of his hay from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, New York, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho and Canada. "Hay supplies are on the short side in New York," he relates. "Hay is also short in the upper peninsula of Michigan, so I am expecting horse hay prices to be higher this year." Roff says hay has been expensive coming out of Canada because uncooperative weather has reduced its hay supply.

Transportation costs have gone up as much as $200-300 per truckload out of New York, Roff explains. "Hay coming out of the western U.S. is up anywhere from $300 to $400 more per load."

Straw prices have been high for the last few years, he says. "I think you are going to see some extremely high straw prices later this winter. There isn't that much straw around." Roff sells around 25,000-30,000 bales of straw each year, much of which he produces. He sells straw to racetracks and the construction market. "We send a lot of straw to racetracks in Maryland and northern Virginia. That is good-quality straw and it is selling between $180 to $200/ton. I could see it going over $200/ton before spring."

Much of Virginia has been in a severe drought this year, reports Chris Teutsch, forage specialist, Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Blackstone. "At our research station we were about 13" behind in rainfall. We finally got some rain about three weeks ago and have caught up a little bit, but we are still in a moisture deficit," he says. "We got some decent hay crops early in the season, but in August and September we didn't have any substantial growth in anything but our warm-season grasses because it got so dry."

Although a lot of older, low-quality hay is on hand, Teutsch echoes Roff's prediction that high-quality horse hay may be in short supply in Virginia this winter.

Teutsch says the equine industry is one of Virginia's fastest-growing agricultural segments, with an estimated 200,000 horses in the state. Each year, Virginia's horses consume more than 470,000 tons of hay valued at approximately $100 million. Much of this hay is imported from other states, according to Teutsch.

Contact Roff at 757-357-4878 and reach Teutsch at 434-292-5331, ext. 234.

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Workshops Available for Former Peanut, Tobacco Producers
Workshops about producing high-quality hay for the equine market are being offered to former peanut and tobacco producers in early February.

Virginia Tech and the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council are sponsoring the workshops. They are an attempt to counter changes in ag policy, low commodity prices, increasing input costs and urbanization, which have forced many southeastern Virginia peanut and cotton producers out of farming, says Chris Teutsch. He's a forage specialist with the Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Blackstone.

"Cash hay production could potentially offset some of the lost revenues from reductions in peanut and tobacco production," says Teutsch. "However, this will require a consistently high-quality hay product and an effective marketing program to Virginia's equine industry."

The one-day seminars will be held in three locations throughout Virginia, repeating the same program in each location. "Producing Cash Hay for the Virginia Equine Industry" will be held Feb. 7 in Chatham, Feb. 8 in Blackstone and Feb. 9 in Suffolk. Contact Teutsch at 434-292-5331, ext. 234, or email for more information.

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**Oct. 31-Nov. 4 -- Pacific Northwest Forage Worker's Conference, Research and Extension Center, Prosser, WA. Contact Mylen Bohle at 541-447-6228 or Steve Fransen at 509-786-9266.

**Nov. 21-22 -- Iowa Forage and Grassland Council Annual Meeting, Des Moines Airport Holiday Inn. Contact Joan O'Brien at 800-383-1682.

**Nov. 29-30 -- Western Hay Business Conference and Expo, The Ranch, Loveland, CO. Learn more by calling Cindy Kramer at 952-851-4698, or by visiting the conference Web site at

**Dec. 2 -- Sheep and Meat Goat Training Program, Kirksville, MO. Contact Bruce Lane at 660-665-9866 or Garry Mathes at 660-665-7049. Or go to and click on Sheep and Meat Goat Training Program.

**Dec. 2-3 -- Missouri Livestock Symposium, Kirksville. Programs on sheep, meat goats, stock and guard dogs, horses, beef cattle, forages, swine, crops and more. Name entertainment and trade show. Details at, or call Bruce Lane at 660-665-9866 or Garry Mathes at 660-665-7049.

**Dec. 6-7 -- Midwest Dairy Expo, St. Cloud Civic Center, St. Cloud, MN. The 2005 expo features nationally known speakers, educational programs and exhibits of dairy supplies and services. Contact trade show coordinator Eir Garcia-Silva of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association at 320-203-8336 or visit

**Dec. 7-8 -- Midwest Forage Association Farm Bill Forum and Research Summit, Holiday Inn Select, Minneapolis, MN. Contact Midwest Forage Association at 651-484-3888.

**Dec. 7-8 -- Manitoba Grazing School, Keystone Centre, Brandon. Contact Marc Boulanger, Manitoba Agriculture, at 204-889-5699.

**Dec 12-14 -- California Alfalfa & Forage Symposium and Trade Show, Visalia. Learn more at or contact

**Dec. 15 -- Alabama Forage Conference, Troy. Learn more at or call Don Ball at 334-844-5491.

**Jan. 18-19 -- Washington State Hay Growers Association Convention and Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick. Learn more at

**Jan. 19-20 -- Southwest Hay Conference & Trade Show, Ruidoso Convention Center, Ruidoso, NM. Learn more at, or call 505-626-5677 or 505-622-8080.

**Jan. 25-26 -- Heart of America Grazing Conference, Cave City, KY. Call 270-365-7541.

**Jan. 31- Feb. 1 -- Midwest Forage Association 2006 Symposium and Annual Meeting, Stoney Creek Inn, Mosinee, WI. Call MFA at 651-484-3888.

**Feb. 3 -- Northern Indiana Grazing Conference, Shipshewana. Call 260-463-3471, ext. 3.

**Feb. 7-8 -- Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Kearney. Contact Barb Kinnan at 800-743-1649 or visit

**Feb. 23 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Lexington. Contact Garry Lacefield at 270-365-7541, ext. 202.

**Feb. 27-28 -- Idaho Hay and Forage Association Meeting, Red Lion Canyon Springs Hotel, Twin Falls. Learn more at

**March 10-14 -- 2006 American Forage and Grassland Council Conference, Westin Riverwalk Hotel, San Antonio, TX. Learn more at, or call Dana Tucker at 800-944-2342.

**March 14-15 -- Midwest Hay Business Conference and Expo, Ramkota Hotel, Sioux Falls, SD. Sponsored by Hay & Forage Grower.

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Comments from Readers
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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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