Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication February 28, 2006 |  
Understanding Horse Hay Market Demands
Top of the News Hay Conference Offers Two-For-One Deal Fewer But Larger Dairy Herds, USDA Reports
State Reports Minnesota New Mexico South Dakota
Events Calendar
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Understanding Horse Hay Market Demands
Knowing the kind of hay horse owners want, and producing it, are crucial to a seller's success, says Jimmy Glisson, vice president of sales and marketing for Seminole Feed, Ocala, FL.

Glisson buys 12-15 semi loads of hay each week for horse owners throughout the southeastern U.S. The company's equine nutrition business, with dealers in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama, also exports horse hay to the Caribbean and Middle East.

A featured speaker at the March 14-15 Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, Glisson will offer suggestions on how growers can market to horse owners.

"The horse hay market is a tough market," he explains. "There are a lot of misconceptions about what a customer wants." Glisson's company divides horse hay customers into four groups: professional, competitive, recreational and caretakers. He will explain what each group is looking for and talk about using hay brokers. Learn more about the Seminole Feed business by visiting its Web site at

Glisson will be joined by Mark Ullerich, South Dakota State University extension horse specialist, for the March 14 presentation. The conference will be held at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls, SD. Learn more by visiting, or call 800-722-5334 and ask for Cindy Kramer.

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Top of the News
Hay Conference Offers Two-For-One Deal
Register for the Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo before March 1 and bring another person along at no additional cost. Registration and a $150 payment must be received by March 1 to qualify for this special offer. Payment is fully refundable if cancellation is received prior to March 14, the start of the conference.

Call 800-722-5334 and ask for Cindy Kramer for more details.

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Fewer But Larger Dairy Herds, USDA Reports
Growers targeting the dairy industry should note that the nation's dairy herds continue to become fewer and larger, according to USDA. Its recent report shows that dairy operations with 500 or more cows represented just under 4% of the nation's dairy herds in 2005, but produced about 50% of total U.S. milk, says Dairyline Radio News. About 3,070 U.S. herds have 500 cows or more, accounting for about 45% of the nation's 9 million cows.

A 2005 increase of about 60 herds from the 2004 figure actually occurred in herds of 1,000 cows or more. In contrast, dairy operations with under 500 cows fell by a combined 3,900 herds from 2004 levels. More than half of the decline came in 1- to 49-cow herds. Relatively strong milk prices probably helped slow that decline compared to 2004 numbers. USDA does not differentiate whether the growth of the largest herds is through the creation of new herds, or expansion of existing smaller herds.

Several Midwestern states had the biggest increases in number of large herds. For example, Ohio increased its number of herds with 500 cows or more by 15 last year. Michigan and Idaho each added 10 herds of 500 cows or more. California didn't show any increase in the number of herds with 500 cows or more. However, 29,000 more cows were on California dairies in December compared to year-earlier levels.

Source: Dairyline Radio News.

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NK Brand Alfalfas deliver more quality AND more yield. Our premium alfalfas, like Genoa, Expedition and Boulder, combine high nutritional values with high yields, plus outstanding agronomics and persistence for longer, healthier stands. The result? More profit from your alfalfa acres - whether you feed it or sell it.
State Reports
Kevin and Linda Nelson, Nelson Hay Company, Hadley, MN, just sent hay customers their first email newsletter of the season. The Nelsons use the newsletter to keep customers informed about hay supplies and to provide production updates throughout the hay season. The Nelsons are busy preparing for their fourth year exhibiting at the Minnesota Horse Expo, April 28-30 in St. Paul. Their show booth attracts new horse hay customers, Nelson notes. He contracts with a number of horse owners to provide hay for the entire season; many of those contracts are finalized by the end of the expo.

Current supplies of small square bales of horse hay are limited, Nelson says. He has a good supply of medium square bales, but finds more demand for small squares. Visit the Nelson Hay Company Web site at, or call Kevin and Linda at 507-836-6818.

The Pipestone Hay Auction reported that 97 loads of hay and straw, or 535 tons, sold at the Feb. 21 auction. Alfalfa sold for $52-80/ton in small square bales, $35-85/ton in round bales, and $62-70/ton in large squares. Grass hay brought $47/ton in small square bales and $30-57/ton in round bales. Mixed hay in small squares went for $52/ton, and in round bales, $40-77/ton. Straw sold for $1.90-2.35/small square bale; $15-37/round bale. Sales are held at 11 a.m., CST, every Tuesday. Learn more at

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New Mexico
Demand for New Mexico hay has never been stronger, but supply is short, reports Doug Whitney, Roswell. "There is no alfalfa to be had in New Mexico, let alone good alfalfa," Whitney says. "Those who have barn-stored hay for later sales are out, or nearly out, of supply. Demand in central Texas has taken any extra supplies due to the drought, which has already affected its 2006 supplies, according to recent reports. Some dairies in New Mexico are having a very hard time finding hay this time of year." Whitney expects the 2006 crop to bring a premium, which he calls more of a necessity than a luxury because of input costs.

Hearings on a proposal to form a New Mexico Alfalfa Commission are being held throughout the state. The state ag department will then decide if support for the proposed organization warrants a referendum.

"This is the standard process for the formation of all crop commissions in New Mexico, whether it be chile peppers, onions, pecans, or whatever," Whitney explains. "All of these groups have made great strides in helping farmers with their concerns, and we hay producers want to have that ability to become a stronger and more effective hay organization." If the proposal passes, Whitney says the New Mexico Hay Association would likely dissolve into the New Mexico Alfalfa Commission.

"An alfalfa commission with an executive director will be badly needed in the future in ways we have not imagined up to this point," Whitney says. "We will have battles to keep alfalfa and the water needed to grow it." The New Mexico Hay Association (formed primarily as a marketing organization) "has helped hay producers create a better relationship with New Mexico State University (NMSU), among a great many other things. NMSU has been a great instrument in the development of alfalfa varieties specifically suited to New Mexico."

Contact Whitney at 505-622-8080.

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South Dakota
Hay prices have been relatively stable during most of the crop marketing year, according to Matthew Diersen, South Dakota State University ag economist. At least 180,000 acres of new alfalfa were planted in 2005, the lowest level of new seeding in the state since 1999. Fall hay disappearance in the state was about 500,000 tons less than expected. Last year, 7.56 million tons of hay were produced. Yields were good across all hay types and hay supply was estimated to be 9.66 million tons going into last fall. An estimated $400 million worth of hay is grown annually in the state, he adds.

Diersen will be a speaker at the upcoming Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo in Sioux Falls, SD, March 14-15.

Contact Diersen at 605-688-4864.

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**March 4 -- Grass-Finished Meats Seminar, Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, Bloomsburg, PA. 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 9 -- Michigan Alfalfa Technology Conference, Lincoln Room, Kellogg Center, East Lansing. Visit (click on "Workshops"), or contact Richard Leep at 269-506-6196 or

**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 204-768-2782, 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."

**June 14-15 -- 4-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference, Grand River Center, Dubuque, IA. Call Dave Fischer, 618-692-9434 or Leo Timms, 515-294-4522.

**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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Comments from Readers
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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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