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 A Primedia Property November 15, 2005 |  
To Sell To Horse Market, Learn What Customers Want
Top of the News Hay Growers, Marketers Reveal Strategies Nov. 29-30 Weed-Free Hay, Straw Program Offered In Indiana
State Reports Colorado Pennsylvania
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To Sell To Horse Market, Learn What Customers Want
Find out what horse hay customers are seeking, then figure out how to deliver it, suggests Don Kurtz, a horse hay marketer at Wheat Ridge, CO. Kurtz will share successful selling strategies on Nov. 30 at the two-day Western Hay Business Conference and Expo in Loveland, CO.

"According to a recent Colorado Department of Agriculture survey, there are around 140,000 horses in Colorado, and around half of those horses need purchased hay," he says. "Depending on the age and activity level, and the amount of grain and pasture being used, a 1,000-lb horse eats around 4 tons of hay per year."

Kurtz buys small, square bales by the semi load from hay and straw producers in various states. He then delivers it within three to five days to his horse hay customers. A common delivery size is three to five tons, with some customers taking more. "I serve a niche market of customers with between one and 12 horses, in addition to some stables," he says. "I find out what my customers want to buy and then try to provide it." Kurtz likes to have two or more suppliers of a particular type of hay with more than 100 miles between them. "I figured out it's in my best interest to have more than one source, so if one source has rain or drought issues, I have other options. I try to help sustain the relationship with my growers by buying some hay from them every year."

Kurtz estimates that about 65% of the horse owners in his area feed straight grass hay, 10-12% feed straight alfalfa hay, and the rest feed a grass-alfalfa mix. He sells most of his hay within a 100-mile radius.

Color is still one of the most important attributes horse owners consider when buying hay, Kurtz adds. "While color may not be the biggest indicator of nutritional value for the horse, it's not the horse that writes the check, it's the person. And color is what sells horse hay," he notes. "Rather than try to fight this constantly, I try to have green hay on hand."

Kurtz advertises for customers in targeted horse industry publications. "I never cease to be amazed by the hay-for-sale ads in regional general ag weeklies," he says. "What is the readership of those publications? If you want to sell horse hay, advertise in a horse industry publication." He points out that different segments of the horse industry have specific regional and national publications, like Western horse riding publications or English riding publications, for example. Some publications target boarding stables and racetracks.

Taking care of existing customers is very important, he adds, because finding new customers is not easy or cheap. "I treasure loyalty, both from the farmers and ranchers I buy hay from, and from my customers. There is a significant cost to getting new customers so I will move heaven and earth to meet my customers' needs and keep them satisfied."

Contact Kurtz at 303-422-8883.

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Top of the News
Hay Growers, Marketers Reveal Strategies Nov. 29-30
Hay industry marketers will tell what works for them at the Western Hay Business Conference and Expo, to be held Nov. 29-30. Registration is still open for the conference, located at The Ranch conference facility, Loveland, CO.

"The goal of this conference is to help hay marketers increase hay sales and profits by gaining insight into new ideas and strategies," says Steve May, publisher of Hay & Forage Grower magazine. Speakers include hay growers who have developed innovative solutions to a wide variety of challenges, in addition to experts from universities, consulting services and companies serving the hay industry.

Learn about how innovative hay growers are opening new markets, both internationally and within the U.S. Find out if there is enough demand for organic hay to justify the added effort to produce the product. Learn about selling to the fast-growing horse hay market. Listen to dairy industry veterans talk about designing alfalfas for better performance in dairy rations. Take a thought-provoking look at Roundup Ready alfalfa, conservation-friendly timothy and alfalfa seedbed establishment, irrigation challenges, and the variable results between forage analysis methods. Visit an extensive trade show devoted exclusively to hay industry products and services.

The cost to attend is $150. Refer to to learn specifics or to register online. Or register by calling 800-722-5334

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Weed-Free Hay, Straw Program Offered In Indiana
Indiana forage producers could gain another marketing opportunity for both hay and straw if they make use of the new Indiana Noxious Weed Seed-Free Forage and Mulch Certification Program.

The demand for noxious weed seed-free hay and straw is growing, says Keith Johnson, Purdue extension forage specialist. A hay grower can use the certificate as a possible selling point to customers who want clean hay. And demand is growing from contractors needing straw for highway construction erosion-control projects as well as from people who take hay on trail rides into national parks, Johnson adds.

To obtain weed-free certification, producers each pay $500 for a lifetime Indiana Crop Improvement Association (ICIA) membership fee, a $10 application fee, a $10-per-field fee and a $2.75-per-acre field inspection fee. There is also a nominal charge for certification bale tags. ICIA inspectors then make sure the pre-harvested crop and areas where it is stored are free of noxious weeds and noxious weed seeds. Neither the crop nor the storage area may contain seed of 67 invasive weeds. ICIA personnel check whether any noxious weeds have reached the flowering stage. If they have, the fields or areas will not be certified. Parts of fields can be certified as noxious weed seed-free.

The list of noxious weeds includes Canada thistle, musk thistle, wild garlic, wild onion, cocklebur, Johnsongrass, giant foxtail, buckhorn, pennycress, field pepperweed and Eastern black nightshade. If a designated area or field is found to be free of the listed weeds, producers can harvest the crop within 10 days and call it certified noxious weed seed-free. Inspections are made of each cutting to be harvested. Certified hay and straw can contain weeds not found on the noxious weed or undesirable plant list.

Indiana is one of the first states east of the Mississippi River to offer such a weed-free certification program. Administered by ICIA, the program was developed in part by Purdue University.

Learn more about it at Call ICIA at 866-899-2518 or email

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Trust us. Your cows will thank you for it.

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State Reports
It was a good year for forage production in most of Colorado, according to William Wailes. He's a Colorado State University extension dairy specialist and speaker at the upcoming Western Hay Business Conference and Expo. "Our moisture levels in Colorado were good based on the amount of snowfall and reservoir water we had for irrigating the crop," he relates. "Many farmers had problems with climate conditions during various cuttings, but we were still able to get a number of tons of dairy-quality hay put up. There was more alfalfa haylage put up in the area this year. We had a great harvest of corn silage, too."

Wailes says hay prices are fairly average so far this fall, with dairy-quality hay ranging between $80-110/ton, depending on quality and cutting. Colorado is a hay-deficit state. Wailes says many people have already bought hay for winter, much of it from Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming and Idaho.

In addition to helping Colorado dairy farmers with financial and production information, Wailes is also a partner in a large dairy. He will speak about designing alfalfas for better performances in dairy rations on Nov. 30 at the hay conference.

Learn more about the conference at Contact Wailes at 970-491-5390.

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There may be a shortage of all types of hay in Pennsylvania this winter, reports Marvin Hall, Penn State extension forage specialist. "Because of the dry weather in some areas of the state this year, we didn't get as much tonnage as we would normally expect," he says. "I'm telling producers that they should start monitoring hay quality and where it fits in the ration, so they can start working on their winter hay needs early. If people are going to need hay, with fuel prices being higher, it is not going to be cheap to ship in. We are going to have to scour around a bit more for locally grown hay this year."

Thinning orchardgrass stands are perplexing producers in southeastern Pennsylvania. "We have been looking at causes such as grub feeding and dry weather, but there may be more involved than that," Hall says. "Orchardgrass has been a stable crop for us and we don't generally have to worry about stands thinning. I am working with a plant pathologist and entomologist to find answers." Cereal leaf mites can be a problem in timothy fields in spring, so some producers switched to orchardgrass.

A total of 105 loads of hay sold at the Nov. 7 A&C Diffenbach Hay Auction in New Holland, PA. Alfalfa hay sold for a high of $285/ton, with an average price of $181/ton. Mixed hay claimed a high price of $265/ton, with an average of $168/ton. Timothy topped out at $240/ton, with an average of $186/ton. The highest price for orchardgrass was $215/ton, with an average of $153/ton. Straw sold for $195/ton at the high end, with an average of $167/ton.

A&C Diffenbach Hay auctions are held on Mondays at 10 a.m., Eastern Time. Contact the auction at 717-355-7253.

Contact Marvin Hall at 814-863-1019.

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**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 14-15 -- Kansas Hay and Grazing Conference, Hutchinson, at the fair-grounds. For pre-registration or more information, call KFRM Radio at 888-550-5376.

**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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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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