Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication March 7, 2006 |  
Putting The Marketing Pieces Together
Top of the News Creating A Hay Marketing Business Register By March 9 And Get Second Person In Free Trucking Rules Suspended For Drought-Stricken Texas
State Reports Iowa Auction Report Ohio Oklahoma
Events Texas Dairy Nutrition Meeting Is April 19-20 Calendar
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Hoards Dairyman


Putting The Marketing Pieces Together
Mike Brosnan uses a variety of marketing tools to attract hay customers. And once he finds new clients, he works hard to maintain good business relationships. Brosnan, owner of Brosnan Farms, Huron, SD, got his start by helping his father, Walter, with the family's commercial hay enterprise. After his dad's death in 1986, Brosnan, his wife, Yvonne, daughters Laura and Jackie, and now Jackie's husband, Derik Kleinsasser, gradually changed the farm's focus from cattle, wheat, corn and 245 acres of alfalfa to more than 3,500 acres of mostly alfalfa hay. They sell dairy and beef hay to customers all over the U.S., using their own trucks to deliver.

Brosnan, a member of the National Hay Association, says attending trade shows is a valuable way to meet new customers and keep in contact with existing clients. When he meets potential new buyers, Brosnan hands them each a brochure with all the important information about his operation, plus a business card giving contact information.

A colorful and inviting Web site also helps him reach new customers. "The Web site has been great for our business because people can see who we are," he says. "A lot of people are just selling hay, but we are selling a relationship. I want to get to know my customers, and they want to get to know me. The hay business demands integrity and honesty." A local company developed the Web site and brochure, both of which tell the history behind his operation and the hay he produces.

"I don't take any orders from the Web site," he adds. "I want to make sure I understand what people want from the hay they are seeking. I like to talk to the people over the phone to gather more information."

Brosnan produces big square bales using six balers at once. "We bale a lot of hay in a short period of time, so our product is more consistent," he says.

Six South African employees, hired through an agency called Employment USA in Aberdeen, are fully employed from May through November each year. Most of them have farms at home and enjoy coming to work in the U.S. when it is winter there. "In addition to an hourly wage, I pay my South African employees' airfare and living expenses, and give them a vehicle to drive. We built a four-bedroom apartment building on our farm to add an extra incentive."

Almost all of Brosnan's hay, sold based on test results, is barn-stored. Three full-time truckers haul hay year-round in three over-the-road semi trucks that frequently back-haul steel and lumber. Four farm-licensed semis are used for shorter hauls. Brosnan says owning his own trucks has helped win some customers' business.

The demand for Brosnan's hay keeps expanding. He strongly believes in working hard to figure out what the customer is seeking, providing a quality product and striving to maintain a good, long-term relationship.

Contact Brosnan Farms at 605-352-7728. Visit the Web site at

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Top of the News
Creating A Hay Marketing Business
The trials and tribulations of establishing a new hay marketing business will be discussed at the upcoming Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, March 14-15 in Sioux Falls, SD. Bob Bleeker, sales manager, Dakota Premium Hay, Yankton, will explain the process and roadblocks he experienced while creating the five-year-old company.

Dakota Premium Hay's core business is re-packaging alfalfa and alfalfa-orchardgrass mix hay almost exclusively for horse hay customers. The company starts with 3 x 3' bales. The re-packaging process involves compressing the hay with a Steffen Systems press. Compressed bales are then shrink-wrapped and palletized for ease of handling and shipping. The finished product is a 17 x 18 x 24" 60-lb bale. The bales go primarily to wholesale and retail sellers of horse hay.

Most if the hay comes from South Dakota and Nebraska growers. Dakota Premium Hay is a limited liability company run by a board of directors. Learn more about the company at

Bleeker will take part in an innovative hay marketers panel on March 14. Learn more about the conference, to be held at the Ramkota Hotel, by visiting Or call 800-722-5334 and ask for Cindy Kramer.

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Register By March 9 And Get Second Person In Free
Get your hay business off to a great start in 2006 by attending the Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo in Sioux Falls, SD, March 14-15. Register by March 9 and you can bring a business partner for no additional cost. Just call 800-722-5334, ask for Cindy Kramer and be ready to provide payment and the name of the person accompanying you. Your registration fee will be fully refunded if you are unable to attend.

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Trucking Rules Suspended For Drought-Stricken Texas
Carriers transporting round hay bales to drought-stricken parts of Texas don't have to worry about permitting requirements and legal height restrictions, reports the Texas Farm Bureau Federation. Texas Gov. Rick Perry waived those rules and directed carriers with loads higher than 14' to contact the state transportation department's motor carrier division to get expedited routing. All other legal requirements, including licensing, registration, insurance and safety, remain in place.

The transportation department had recently begun enforcing a 14' height restriction on hay loads. Round bales stacked two high on a straight deck trailer generally exceeded that limit, forcing truckers hauling to drought-stricken herds to unload hay before reaching their destinations. Neilan Smith, a Plainview hay producer, was unloading hay twice each time because of the hay height restriction. He worked with the Texas Farm Bureau to bring the matter to the governor's attention. That waiver will expire April 30.

Source: Texas Farm Bureau Federation.

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State Reports
Iowa Auction Report
Dry field conditions dominated conversation at the March 1 hay auction at the Dyersville Sales Company, says Dale Leslein, hay auction manager. Subsoil moisture is low in southern Iowa and northern Illinois. Hay stocks are down, he says. Some producers are holding remaining hay supplies to feed to their own cattle if the low-moisture conditions persist.

At the auction, demand was good, particularly for better-quality hay. A total of 961 tons were sold. Demand was soft for lower-end hay and bedding, Leslein says. Second- through fourth-crop mixed hay that was barn-stored, with good color, sold well.

Large square bales of supreme alfalfa hay sold for $107-110/ton; premium, $92-120/ton; good, $72-90/ton; fair, $60-70/ton; and utility, $40-50/ton. Large round bales of premium alfalfa went for $102/ton; good, $75-87/ton; fair, $47-70/ton; and utility, $27-50/ton.

Good mixed hay averaged $92.50-110/ton for large square bales and $87-102/ton for large round bales.

Sales are held at 11 a.m. CST on Wednesdays. Contact Leslein at 563-875-2481, email, or visit

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Ohio's alfalfa and grass hay fields seem to be coming out of winter in fairly good shape, reports Mark Sulc, Ohio State University crop scientist. Crown buds are green, but plants were not yet growing as of last week. Last summer, many parts of Ohio were dry and producers made late-fall alfalfa cuttings. "I'm not expecting big problems with the alfalfa crop or grasses," Sulc says. Growers there are interested in planting annual forages for grazing, he adds.

Contact Sulc at 614-292-9084, or visit Ohio State University's forage Web site at

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Oklahoma has been hot and dry, with temperatures even above 90 degrees, says John Caddel, Oklahoma State University forage agronomist. That means alfalfa weevils have had extra time to get established. "Most places in Oklahoma will probably have to spray twice this year because of a prolonged hatching period," he says.

Much of the alfalfa in Oklahoma has been sprayed for spotted alfalfa aphids or cowpea aphids already this winter, and alfalfa weevils are hatching. With the dry, hot weather, some producers are mistaking weevil feeding on very short alfalfa stems as a sign of drought. In many cases, spraying to relieve the pressure from alfalfa weevils will help the alfalfa green up, but it will take a good rain to make it start growing seriously.

Alfalfa hay movement in Oklahoma continues to be active, and alfalfa and grass hay prices are staying firm, according to the March 2 USDA hay report. Cattle are moving off of wheat pastures in large numbers, and supplemental feeding continues for most livestock.

In central and western Oklahoma, premium-quality alfalfa brought $120-140/ton for both large square and small square bales. Good-quality alfalfa, in large square bales, sold for $100-120/ton; in large round bales, $90-100/ton. Fair-quality alfalfa, in large square bales, went for $80-90/ton; in large round bales, $70-80/ton.

In central and eastern Oklahoma, grass hay sold for $70-80/ton for premium-quality large square and small square bales; good-quality small square bales went for $65-75/ton. Large round bales of premium-quality grass hay sold for $60-70/ton; good-quality, $50-60/ton. Check detailed hay price quotations for Oklahoma at

Contact Caddel at 405-744-9543, or email

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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.
Texas Dairy Nutrition Meeting Is April 19-20
The 2006 Mid-South Ruminant Nutrition Conference will be held April 19-20 at the Arlington Hilton at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Experts from across the country will explore topics on feeding dairy cattle for optimum milk production. Registration received by April 5 is $80; after that day, the cost is $95. The conference is sponsored by the Texas A&M University Extension Service and the Texas Animal Nutrition Council.

Contact Ellen Jordan, Texas extension dairy specialist at 972-952-9201 or

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**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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