Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Primedia Property December 13, 2005 |  
Horse Interests Need Consistent Supply Of Small Bales
Top of the News Canada And Mexico Approve Roundup Ready Alfalfa USDA Focuses On High Energy Costs National Ag Statistics Service Revamps Web Site
State Reports Wisconsin Midwest Hay Market Report
Events North Dakota Forage Training Course Scheduled Jan 10-12 Calendar
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Horse Interests Need Consistent Supply Of Small Bales
Hay growers need to focus on providing horse owners with consistency from bale weight to quality and price in order to guarantee a successful business relationship. So says Tim Stanton, owner of Sunset Stables, LLC, Fort Collins, CO. "You are looking for value for your hay, we are looking for value from hay," Stanton told attendees at Hay & Forage Grower's recent Western Hay Business Conference and Expo. He notes that the key to repeat business is for hay producers to deliver a quality product at a fair price when dealing with boarding stables. "Ask your customers what they want and then be ready to provide it," he states.

As the owner of two boarding stables in the Fort Collins area, Stanton says it's important for him to find a consistent supply of hay that doesn't vary a great deal in quality, price or weight. He's looking for hay that's free of mold, dust, blister beetles, weeds and foreign material. A good, leafy green appearance and fresh smell, without a lot of stems, helps sell horse hay as well, he says. Consistent bale weight comes into play when feeding the horses. "There is a tremendous difference in the size of the bale flake from a 40-lb bale vs. a 60-lb bale," Stanton explains. Stable owners strive to keep the animals' diet consistent from day-to-day, and wide variations in bale weight cause variations in the amount of hay a horse is actually getting. The people working in the stable may not notice the difference, which can cause problems.

Because Stanton often has clients sign boarding contracts listing the amount they will be paying for a specified period, it's difficult for him to factor in wide hay-price swings. "For every $25/ton increase in hay prices, one must increase boarding fees in the neighborhood of $11.40 per month to offset the hay prices," he notes. Stanton says he feeds an average of about 30 lbs of hay per horse per day.

He encourages hay producers to bring samples of their hay, in addition to laboratory analyses, when calling on potential new horse hay customers.

Learn more about Sunset Stables at, or contact Stanton at 970-484-6039 or 970-221-1631.

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Top of the News
Canada And Mexico Approve Roundup Ready Alfalfa
Canada and Mexico recently approved the importation of Roundup Ready alfalfa, according to Mark McCaslin, Forage Genetics International. He told Western Hay Business Conference and Expo attendees that about 1 million pounds of Roundup Ready alfalfa seed were sold to U.S. growers in 2005. An estimated 4 million pounds will be available in 2006. McCaslin expects 2007 to be the first year in which there will be enough seed available to meet demand.

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USDA Focuses On High Energy Costs
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns recently announced the formation of the USDA Energy Council to help seek out a strategy for dealing with the high agricultural energy costs. Johanns says USDA's Risk Management Agency will host a workshop by early spring to seek ideas and promote discussion about how best to create risk management tools to help producers manage the impacts of high energy and energy-related input costs.

Johanns directed the Farm Service Agency to look at ways to provide support to producers who need credit. Another part of the USDA effort includes a revised on-line energy calculator designed to help producers reduce fuel usage. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service developed the "Energy Estimator" to calculate the diesel fuel usage and costs associated with various tillage practices in order to help producers make money-saving decisions. USDA is also stepping up efforts to support the development, production and use of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

More information about USDA's energy strategy is available at This Web site features a USDA Energy Fact Sheet, the energy calculator and details about the USDA energy-related loan and grant programs.

Source: USDA.

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National Ag Statistics Service Revamps Web Site
USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently launched its newly redesigned Web site, The site features more agricultural data in an easy-to-use format. Search for the top five hay-producing states and find out the economic impact hay production has on those states using the site's search features, for example. The new design is expected to better serve the needs of NASS customers, including farmers, researchers and government officials. Technological enhancements include a new Google-powered search engine and an interactive mapping application

The site continues to provide comprehensive statistical data on every facet of U.S. agriculture. Features such as the Quick Stats Agricultural Statistics Database offer the ability to search for data by commodity, state(s) and year(s). National, state and county data can then be downloaded for easy use in a database or spreadsheet.

Producers are encouraged to look for frequent updates and new information on the site. USDA reports, such as the monthly Crop Production publication, will continue to be available online just minutes after release. Additionally, up-to-date information on surveys currently being conducted, as well as upcoming initiatives such as the 2007 Census of Agriculture, will be available for quick viewing.

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State Reports
The combination of winterkill and dry summer weather left producers in eastern Wisconsin short on hay, reports Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin extension forage agronomist. "Prices have been stable to slightly lower on dairy hay," he says. "We are seeing some rises in the demand for small bales of horse hay. I think we will probably see horse hay prices go up because, unlike the dairy industry, the horse market does not use alternate feed sources when hay is in short supply."

Contact Undersander at 608-263-5070. Visit the University of Wisconsin forage Web site at

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Midwest Hay Market Report
The University of Wisconsin compiles a weekly online hay market demand and price report. According to the Dec. 9 report, very cold and snowy weather continued in Nebraska with sharply increased demand for "cow hay" last week. Most cattlemen were supplementing cows out on winter grazing. Demand was good for hay in Iowa. Many South Dakota farmers and ranchers were still without electricity from a recent ice and snow storm. Sales activity was good in southwestern Minnesota.

Missouri hay prices were steady, demand was good and supply was moderate. Several areas of the state experienced various amounts of snowfall. Prices rose in several neighboring states, but remained mostly steady in Missouri. Many buyers were still trying to buy mid-quality hay and were being particular about what they would pay. There continued to be a moderate supply of higher-end hay, but after freight costs were added, very little was sold as of last week. It appeared that farmers who had hay needs covered earlier this year made a wise choice.

Prime Midwestern hay greater than 151 RFV/RFQ was averaging $124.41/ton for small square bales with a minimum price of $85/ton and maximum price of $170/ton. Large square bales in the same category averaged $108.56/ton with a minimum of $67.50/ton and maximum of $145/ton. Prime large round bales ranged from $55 to $100/ton, averaging $81/ton.

Small square bales of 125 to 150 RFV/RFQ hay sold for an average price of $107.50/ton, while large square bales averaged $73.50/ton, ranging from $55 to $91/ton. Large round bales sold for a high of $75.90/ton and averaged $57.93/ton. The minimum round-bale price was $40/ton.

Grade 2 hay in the 103 to 124 RFV/RFQ range sold for an average of $84.17 for small square bales. Large square bales averaged $71.25/ton, with a maximum of $75/ton and minimum of $60/ton.

Straw prices in the Midwest averaged $2.82 per small square bale (range of $2.10 to $3.50); $22.38 per large square bale (range of $18 to $27.50); and $19 per large round bale (range of $15 to $27).

Visit to see the online report. The next report will be posted Dec. 19.

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North Dakota Forage Training Course Scheduled Jan 10-12
A course on 12-month livestock-pasture-forage management will be offered Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 10-12, on the campus of Dickinson State University. The course is designed for producers and students who want to learn more about developing pasture-forage management plans. This planning course is a cooperative project of the North Dakota State University Dickinson Research Extension Center, the Dickinson State agricultural department and the NDSU animal and range sciences department.

"Each participant in the course will develop a grassland management strategy that provides a full 12-month forage sequence for his or her own ranch," says Lee Manske, an NDSU range scientist at the Dickinson Research Extension Center and one of the course instructors. "The course will present information about range ecology, livestock nutrition and forage production to help participants understand and operate their 12-month pasture-forage management plans."

Prior to the start of the course, participants will need to prepare a complete set of maps; obtain copies of aerial photos for their entire land holdings, including owned and leased land; and calculate the acreage of each parcel of land and forage type. A preview of the course material and instructions for completing the pasture and forage inventory is available on the Web at

The cost is $100 for producers ($70 registration and $30 laboratory fee). The course will run from 1 to 9 p.m., Jan. 10; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Jan. 11; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Jan. 12. Dickinson is in the Mountain time zone. Space is limited, so those who wish to participate are encouraged to register as soon as possible by calling 701- 483-2185.

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**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 fairgrounds. 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, or visit

**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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