Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication March 21, 2006 |  
Knowing Production Costs Helps Set Prices
Top of the News Beef Producers Give Feedback On Net Wrap Tips For Finding Trucks
State Reports Colorado Indiana Ohio South Dakota
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This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Knowing Production Costs Helps Set Prices
Dave Storms, Muscoda, WI, adds up his production costs each year, doubles the total and uses that figure to set the price on his bagged haylage and dry hay. And he sells out every year. Speaking at last week's Midwest Hay Business Conference and Expo in Sioux Falls, SD, he said he focuses on producing a quality product while keeping a close eye on the bottom line. "I'm in this business to succeed, not just to survive," he explains. "Ninety percent of our business is repeat. If we weren't selling out, we would have to re-evaluate our pricing strategy."

Storms converted 2,000 acres of corn and other row crops to hay in 1989. He grows pure alfalfa, pure orchardgrass and alfalfa-orchardgrass hay and haylage, striving to produce around 10,000 tons of product per year. He says 80% of his hay is sold as wrapped bales, and 20% as dry hay. "With wrapping we can have a consistent product in spite of the humidity," Storms explains. "We have a marketing edge that helps us compete against low-cost producers. Every single bale we make is designed for a particular market." He sells to the dairy and horse markets.

Storms uses a front-mounted mower and a hydra-swing on the same tractor to increase production and decrease drying time. He uses a Kverneland wrapper and replaces it every three years because of the hot market for used square-bale wrappers. A roll of plastic now costs between $70 and $90, and he expects to get 20-25 bales per roll. It takes Storms 40 seconds to pick up a bale, wrap it and set it back down. He can wrap bales at as low as 23% moisture and maintain the bright green color that customers want.

The key to keeping the business successful is to keep asking questions, Storms says. "We constantly ask ourselves if we could do anything better," he says. "Ask your customers what they are looking for. Where's your competition? Is there another product you could be producing?"

Contact Stormdale Farms at 608-739-4251.

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Top of the News
Beef Producers Give Feedback On Net Wrap
Beef producers have a love-hate relationship with net-wrapped hay bales, according to the March 2006 issue of The Ranch Hand newsletter from North Dakota State University.

In some cases, freezing rain or ice buildup became so thick that it was just about impossible to remove net wrap from bales, producers complained. Yet many loved the ease of wrapping bales and the time saved, compared to twine wrapping. But most hated the time it took to cut the net wrap off, and the pile of trash left at the end of a winter feeding period.

Producers questioned whether to cut the net wrap off or leave it on before tub grinding. Some removed the wrap because they were concerned it would cause intestinal problems. Others ground the wrap with the hay and had no problems. Many feedlot operators didn't remove the wrap because their animals weren't fed hay long enough to develop problems. Cow-calf operators were more cautious, according to the newsletter. Since the cows consume large quantities of hay during their lifetimes, there is still concern about potential intestinal issues.

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Tips For Finding Trucks
Hay producers can look on several Internet sites to find truckers to deliver hay, according to Bob Bleeker, Dakota Premium Hay, Yankton, SD. He uses and, he said at last week's Midwest Hay Conference.

Bleeker offers hay producers another tip: "In order to stay competitive, if I save money on trucking, I like to pass the savings on to my customers."

Contact Bleeker at 605-665-6147.

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State Reports
A thoughtful Christmas gift brought Brad Hendricks, Carbondale, CO, and his son-in-law, Ed Sigel, to the Midwest Hay Business Conference. Harmony Sigel, Brad's daughter and Ed's wife, paid their registration as a way for them to gain additional horse hay marketing information. Harmony, Ed and Ed's family recently bought a ranch near Centennial, WY. Their 1,000-acre, irrigated hay enterprise is located near the border of Colorado, where they can target its horse hay market.

Contact Hendricks at 307-699-0145 or Ed and Harmony Sigel at 307-742-6711.

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Charles and Andy Mullin, Brownsburg, IN, were sitting in the front row during the Midwest Hay Conference. The Mullins' hay farm is located near Indianapolis. They sell hay to the dairy and horse markets, but may shift their marketing focus more toward the horse industry. "There are lots of horse owners in our area," Charles Mullin explains. "We are thinking about making a smaller bale specifically to service the horse market niche." They recently bought a semi to deliver hay to customers more efficiently. At the conference, they talked to other hay producers and exhibitors about hay preservatives and investigated hay dryers. During storms last summer, their area received 3-4" of rain at a time. That made it difficult to put up quality hay.

Yet this winter has been mild. They still have around 600 bales for sale and could ship outside of the state. Contact Charles and Andy Mullin at 317-852-4975.

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Demand for horse hay has been steady this winter, reports E.J. Croll of Croll Farms, Oak Harbor, OH. Croll ships much of his hay to Kentucky horse farms. "It was really dry in Kentucky last year and they had to start using baled hay early in the summer. Even though it has been a relatively mild winter in Kentucky, demand has been very steady."

Croll's farm is located close to Lake Erie, where record-setting December snowfalls were followed by an unusually warm January and an average February. Last summer was extremely good for making hay, Croll says. He expects to take his first cutting the first part of June, and finish harvesting in early October.

Croll, vice president of the National Hay Association, says its members are interested in learning more about anti-terrorism rules that go into effect Dec. 9. The new rules will require all hay products sold for use beyond the farm of origin to carry traceable identification.

Contact Croll at 419-898-2496.

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South Dakota
Michael and Diane Lentsch have attended every Hay & Forage Grower hay conference held over the last three years. They raise 900 acres of alfalfa, alfalfa-orchardgrass and alfalfa-timothy hay near Veblen in northeastern South Dakota. "The hay conference is like a retreat for us," Michael Lentsch explains. "It is nice to hear what people are doing in their hay operations, day to day. We always go home motivated."

They sell dairy, horse and beef hay. "We are seeing more interest in small square bales lately," Lentsch says. They use brokers to sell much of their hay, most of which is tested. "One of the biggest obstacles we are finding is educating people on the differences between relative feed value (RFV) and relative forage quality (RFQ)," Lentsch reports. "RFQ is a better test for grass hay, but we are having a hard time finding people who understand RFQ. We end up spending a lot of time trying to educate brokers about RFQ."

Lentsch says finding trucks to deliver hay has been quite a challenge this past year. Most of their hay is sold to customers in northwestern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota and southern Wisconsin.

Contact Michael and Diane Lentsch at 605-738-2208.

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The biggest ideas in haying equipment come from New Holland. Like the BW Series self-propelled automatic bale wagon, featuring a new five-speed automatic transmission that provides excellent speed matching ability. Choose a slower ground speed in high-density crops, or fifth gear overdrive for no-load road speed. To learn more, see your local New Holland dealer or call 1-888-290-7377.
**March 22-23 -- Manitoba Forage Symposium, MacDon Product Showcase Building, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Call the Manitoba Forage Council at 204-768-2782, or visit

**March 22-23 -- Central Plains Dairy Expo, Sioux Falls Convention Center. Contact Kathy Tonneson at 218-236-8420, or visit

**March 28 -- Minnesota Forage Day, Good Times Restaurant, Caledonia, MN, 10 a.m.-3:15 p.m. Contact Lisa Behnken or Neil Broadwater at 888-241-4536, or Jerry Tesmer at 507-725-5807 or 507-765-3896, or visit

**April 19-20 -- 2006 Mid-South Ruminant Nutrition Conference, Arlington Hilton at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Sponsored by Texas A& M University Extension Service and the Texas Animal Nutrition Council. Contact Ellen Jordan at 972-952-9201 or

**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. Call 800-707-0014 or visit

**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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