Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication June 1, 2031 |  
Rebaling Offers Hay Marketing Advantages
Top of the News Gulf Coast Needs More Hay
State Reports Iowa Nebraska
Events Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo Coming March 14-15 Calendar
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Rebaling Offers Hay Marketing Advantages
University of Maine researchers have been investigating the economic advantages grass hay producers could gain by rebaling large round bales into small square bales. The technique allows growers to harvest and bale quickly by using large round bales, while cashing in on the demand for small bales from the equine and small livestock markets.

A Simpco, Inc., bale unroller has been used for a number of months at the university's Franklin J. Witter Center, according to Donna Coffin Lamb, extension educator at Dover-Foxcroft, ME. The machine unrolls round bales and feeds the hay into a square baler. Lamb notes that preliminary experience has shown that 3.5 workers -- an operator, stacker, loader and floater/cleanup person -- can rebale about 6,000 lbs of hay per hour while increasing net revenue by $114.09/hour.

The designer of the unroller, T. Whipple Simpson, used his regular square baler to rebale the hay. He found that an 800-lb round bale valued at $37.50 would yield 19 small square bales weighing 40 lbs and valued at $3.25/bale.

The University of Maine researchers, headed by economist James Leiby, used a similar process. He calculated a total cost of $357.16/hour to rebale 7.5 large round bales. That includes the $37.50 cost of each bale. The 7.5 round bales produced 145 square bales valued at $3.25 each, or a total of $471.25. Net revenue increased $114.09/hour or $15.21/round bale. Labor costs were figured at $9/hour. Leiby points out that, in the worst-case scenario, with round bales costing $45 and wages at $13/hour, the breakeven price for square bales would be about $3/bale. The rebaling costs alone were $75.91/hour, $10.12/round bale or 52 cents/square bale. The researchers used two tractors, one for power and one to load, in addition to a square baler.

Lamb emphasizes that rebaling hay cannot improve its quality. "You need to start with dry hay that has been stored under cover," she says. "Hay that has a large amount of spoilage on the outside or bottom of the bale usually binds up the equipment, so those looking for an option for rebaling spoiled hay into small square bales for mulch hay should not rely on this equipment."

Leiby says Maine has about 38,000 horses. They need an estimated 7 million bales of hay per year, with a value of around $22.5 million.

He cites an Iowa State University study that found baling hay into small square bales in the field can cost $14/acre more than producing round bales, plus small square bales cost more to handle. A University of Georgia study found the average price beef producers were willing to pay for hay in large round bales was $50-60/ton, which is very near the cost of production. However, the price went up to $150/ton when the same hay was put up in small square bales and marketed to horse owners.

University of Maine researchers involved with the project include Lamb; Leiby; Justin Jamison, Witter Center farm superintendent; and Jake Dyer, Witter Center forage manager.

Contact Lamb at 201-564-3301, Leiby at 207-581-3178, Jamison at 201-581-2793 or Dyer at 207-745-6181.

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Top of the News
Gulf Coast Needs More Hay
Dairy and beef producers along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Mississippi are still in need of hay to help get through the winter after suffering devastating losses during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, says Rustin Moore of Louisiana State University's School of Veterinary Medicine. "There is a tremendous need for hay to help with wintering cattle in the cow-calf operations and for some of the few remaining dairy cattle in south Louisiana," Moore says. "Any support that could be provided through donations of hay and/or fuel for transport of this hay would be greatly appreciated and is much-needed for these hard-hit farmers."

The Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association (NAMA) has helped send 17 loads of hay to the area, according to Bernie Wrede, a hay producer from Pierce, NE. Wrede, a NAMA member and volunteer with the Orphan Grain Train disaster relief organization, has driven several truckloads of relief supplies and hay to the Gulf Coast area. He says Orphan Grain Train has obtained some money to help cover the costs of shipping the hay, but transportation costs have been a big obstacle during relief efforts.

The cattle industry in southern Louisiana is mainly made up of beef cow-calf operations and some dairy farms. Prior to the hurricanes, there were approximately 170,000 cattle in the parishes hit by Katrina and Rita, says Moore. Many cattle were lost due to drowning. An estimated 50,000 cattle either died or were dispersed from the area because of insufficient fencing and feed and hay shortages after the storms. An estimated 120,000 cattle remain in southern Louisiana alone.

"There is a real shortage of hay and pasture land for wintering of cattle," Moore says. "Pastures are typically seeded with ryegrass for winter grazing, but since much of the land was covered with saltwater from the flooding, the grass has died and the pastures are not suitable for growing ryegrass." He says hayfields that had not been cut prior to the storms were ruined. Hay that had been stored from early cuttings became completely submerged under flood waters and is not suitable for feeding. Many fences are down, which has led to overstocking of a few remaining pastures that were not damaged.

Wrede says both dairy and beef operations are being supplied with the donated hay. He says the quality of hay donated to date has been very good. Square bales are preferred, because it's easier to meet transportation laws with square bales.

Recently, it has become apparent that there are also approximately 800 horses in Vermillion Parish in southwestern Louisiana that are in need of hay. According to the parish extension office, about 6,500 small square bales (or the equivalent in large bales) of horse-quality hay are needed to get them through the winter until spring pastures arrive. People specifically interested in donating toward the hay relief for horses should contact Moore directly by telephone (225-578-9500).

To learn more about the relief efforts, contact Moore by phone or email(, or call Wrede at 402-649-0661. Learn more about Orphan Grain Train at, or call 402-371-7393.

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State Reports
While demand has been good, there hasn't been a big premium for quality hay this winter, reports Bruce Telleen, Monticello, IA. He has around 500 big square alfalfa hay bales in the 150 to 160 relative feed value range left to sell. "There hasn't been much difference in price between average hay selling for $90/ton and real good hay selling for $100-110/ton," he says. "Apparently there is a lot of hay around, or maybe the economy and fuel prices are making the difference."

Telleen says there were three weeks of cold, snowy days in December, but most of the winter has been mild in his area.

He was the dairy haylage winner in the World's Forage Analysis Superbowl at the 2005 World Dairy Expo. Contact him at 319-465-4728.

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Hay demand has been good this winter, reports Bernie Wrede, Pierce, NE. He raises and sells dairy hay, shipping to customers in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Michigan. He says demand remains strong in spite of higher freight prices.

Contact Wrede at 402-649-0661.

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Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo Coming March 14-15
Mark your calendar and start planning your trip to the Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, March 14-15 at the Ramkota Hotel, Sioux Falls, SD. Commercial hay growers will be able to hear first-hand about successful and innovative hay marketing programs targeting the high-demand horse market during a March 14 session.

The first day of the conference will also include a panel of growers who have researched and marketed their forage products into new venues. Experts will also analyze the costs and pricing to achieve a profitable hay business. On March 15, University of Wisconsin forage specialist Dan Undersander will examine forage analyses and whether they're accurate. Creating a successful dairy hay business using artificial drying and a unique soil fertility plan, opening new markets by changing the package, alfalfas with added value and new anti-terrorism legislation and how it affects hay growers will also be discussed.

Registration costs $150/person and includes the two-day program, five hours of trade-show exhibits, an evening reception on day one and breakfast and lunch on day two. A second person from the same operation can attend for $125. Registration deadline is Feb. 19. For more information, or to register, call 800-722-5334 and ask for Cindy Kramer. Or visit

Early registrants may also want to make hotel reservations at 605-336-0650 and ask for discounted rooms at $69/night.

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

**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. 7-9 -- Producing Cash Hay for Virginia's Equine Industry Workshops, Feb. 7-Armory in Chatham; Feb. 8-Southern Piedmont Research Station, Blackstone; Feb. 9-Tidewater Research Station, Suffolk. Registration for each will begin at 8 a.m. and the programs will end at 3:30 p.m. Early registration deadline is Jan. 27. Contact Chris Teutsch at, or call 434-0292-5331, ext. 234.

**Feb. 14-16 -- World Ag Expo, Tulare, CA. Learn more at

**Feb. 16 -- Indiana Forage Council Annual Meeting and Seminar Presentation, Cornerstone Hall, Salem. Contact Lisa Metts at or 765-494-4783.

**Feb. 21- 22 -- Central Plains Irrigation Conference, Comfort Inn, Colby, KS. Learn more at

**Feb. 22-23 -- Pennsylvania Hay and Silage Conference, Holiday Inn, Grantville. Contact Lisa Crytser at 814-865-2543.

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

**Feb. 25 -- Bi-State Forage Institute: Focus on Hay, The Stratford Inn, Harvard, IL. Call 847-223-8627.

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

**March 4 -- Grass-Finished Meats Seminar, Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, Bloomsburg, PA, in the industrial building. Contact Kris Ribble at 570-784-4401, ext. 111, or Dave Hartman at 570-784-6660, ext. 12. Sponsored by Penn State Cooperative Extension and Project Grass Northeast.

**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. Visit

**March 22-23 -- Manitoba Forage Symposium, MacDon Product Showcase Building, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Call the Manitoba Forage Council at 204-322-5427, or visit

**April 21-23 -- Midwest Horse Fair, Alliant Energy Center, Madison, WI. Learn more at

**April 28-30 -- Minnesota Horse Expo, Minnesota State Fairgrounds, St. Paul. Learn more at

**May 25 -- University of Florida Corn Silage And Forage Field Day, Plant Science Unit, Citra, FL. Contact Jerry Wasdin at 352-392-1120 or, or visit Under "Dairy Cattle," click on "Corn Silage Field Day."

**Sept. 7-9 -- National Hay Association 111th Annual Convention, Snow King Resort, Jackson Hole, WY.

**Oct. 3-7 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center, Madison, WI. Learn more at

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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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