Dairymen Still Need Quality Hay
Lower milk prices are causing cash-flow problems for
some dairy farmers, but their cows still need high-quality hay to keep
production high, according to dairy industry experts. "If you want
healthy cows that are producing efficiently, you have to purchase
good-quality hay," says Mireille Chahine, University of Idaho extension
dairy specialist. "So I don't think dairy producers will be looking for
lower-quality hay. I think they may be looking at working out different
payment arrangements, or may buy their hay in smaller amounts, depending
on their cash flow."
Bob Parsons, University of Vermont ag business management specialist,
says some dairy producers have barely paid down extra debt incurred when
milk prices dipped four years ago. "The difference now vs. when milk
prices went down in 2002 is that producers now have to pay even more
both for the feed and for the delivery of it," says Parsons. "When milk
prices went down before, producers didn't have to contend with increases
in feed and fuel costs at the same time. When producers are getting hit
several ways, it can be hard to be optimistic."
The U.S. dairy industry is still growing in some parts of the country in
spite of lower milk prices. "We are seeing growth in New Mexico, Texas,
Idaho and Colorado, for example, while we in the Northeast are trying to
figure out how we can stop losing production," Parsons states.
"Producers in the Northeast face a disadvantage in costs of production
and we don't have the land base to support dairy industry expansion.
Many dairy producers here are struggling to meet all their production
"Class III milk was down to $10.80 for May, and it looks like it's going
to go back up to $11.30 for June, but it's still expected to peak this
fall at $12.50, and that is a lot different from the $14 that was the
average of the last year or so," Parsons adds. "Some farmers were able
to lock in higher milk prices, but a peak of $12.50 is not exactly
overwhelming. Many of these guys need a $14 Class III milk price."
Although Idaho is held up as an example of dairy industry growth, that
state's dairy industry has actually changed quite a bit due to
consolidation in recent years. "We might in total have a greater number
of cows, but they are owned by a smaller number of people," Chahine
says. "This may give some hay buyers the capacity to negotiate more
because one person is buying hay for a larger number of cows." She says
feed costs are about 50% or more of the cost of dairying, but she urges
producers to focus on hay quality whenever possible. "It (feed cost) is
a huge chunk of money to be dealing with on a day-to-day basis, and
quality is the key," she says. "I always emphasize, whether I'm talking
to dairy producers or hay producers, that we have to keep thinking about
Neal Martin, director of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison,
WI, also reminds producers to focus on the importance of feeding quality
forage, even when it may be tempting to lean more toward least-cost
ration formulation. "I think high-quality forage is always a good buy,
and always in high demand," Martin says. "The problem as I see it, is
the question about what makes up a high-quality forage." He says
producers should make sure they are buying quality hay based on fiber
level, digestible fiber level, and physical fiber effectiveness. "When
those factors are there, then high-quality hay easily demands the
highest price," he continues. "In low-milk years you want to maximize
profit. One of the ways to maximize profit is to hold your income up,
which means milk production. So if you have that high-quality forage,
you will be able to utilize it with many of your dietary components."
Contact Chahine at 208-736-3609, Parsons at 802-656-2109, and Martin at
Haying season is wide open with the BW
Series self-propelled automatic bale wagon from New Holland. The BW
makes your job of moving and stacking bales faster and more comfortable
than ever, featuring a redesigned cab on the BW28 or BW38. Get ready to
clear fields with speed and ease. To learn more, see your local New
Holland dealer or call 1-888-290-7377. www.newholland.com/h4/
Alabama Has Strong Horse Industry
A recent Auburn University study seems to indicate that
there's a strong market for horse hay in Alabama. The Opelika-Auburn
News reports on a two-year study by Auburn University rural
sociologist Joe Molnar and extension horse specialist Cindy McCall. They
found that the state's equine industry is worth nearly $2.4 billion
annually. According to the study, the state's horse population stands at
almost 187,000, up 44% from the 1997 total of 130,000 horses. That means
one in every 20 Alabama households owns or leases at least one horse.
About 90% of Alabama's horses are for recreational use only; even so,
owners spend an average of $8,705 per horse annually. Another 9.9% of
the state's horses are used for light-to-moderate showing, for
competition or as breeding stock, and an average of $28,260 is spent
annually per horse. For the remaining one-tenth of 1%, classified as
high-value animals and used for regional or national showing and
competition, owners spend an average of $69,080 annually per horse.
Almost $2.4 billion was linked to spending on horse care and
maintenance, including feed, bedding, veterinary services, medications
and insurance. Alabama, with its mild climate, abundant land, low taxes
and low land costs, is primed for further growth of the equine
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whether you feed it or sell it. www.nk-us.com
Identifying Good And Bad Alfalfa Insects
Iowa State University offers an online reminder of the
types of insects Midwestern alfalfa producers may find in their fields.
Entomologist Marlin Rice put together an article with identification
pictures for the ISU Integrated Crop Management online newsletter. Find
it at www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/icm/2006/5-22/alfalfainsects.html.
Alfalfa weevil defoliation remains a big issue,
especially in central Michigan, reports Christina DiFonzo, Michigan
State University entomologist. Weevils have been thriving in fields
where wet weather prevented foliar insecticide applications. At this
point, cutting is the management strategy of choice, although larvae are
quite small and can survive cutting, according to central Michigan
extension educators. Growers should watch regrowth for weevil numbers
and damage. The economic threshold for spraying regrowth is six to eight
larvae per square foot or 25% of new tips damaged.
Potato leafhoppers have been reported in southern Michigan.
Potato leafhoppers are starting to show up in some
Minnesota alfalfa fields, according to the Minnesota Department of
Agriculture. Light numbers of alfalfa weevil larvae have also been
observed. Light numbers of armyworms were reported in southern
Minnesota; high numbers were reported in the margin bordering one
west-central Minnesota alfalfa field last week.
Ohio hay growers should be on the lookout for potato
leafhoppers, according to Ohio State University reports. Fields should
be scouted as alfalfa regrowth reaches sufficient height for sweep-net
sampling. OSU experts say southern to central Ohio growers should start
sampling now; northern growers should do the same within a week or
Research trials conducted throughout the major alfalfa growing
regions of the U.S. prove the superior performance of Raptor®
herbicide: Controlling grasses and broadleaf weeds with Raptor in
both seedling and established alfalfa can have a significant effect
in improving the yield potential and forage quality of your
The chemical company.
Always read and follow label directions.
Raptor is a registered trademark of BASF. © 2005 BASF
All Rights Reserved.
APN 05-01-133-0010 b
U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS) has asked Ag Secretary
Mike Johanns to release 45 western Kansas counties for emergency
Conservation Reserve Program haying and grazing as requested by the
state Farm Service Agency. "Producers in western Kansas are experiencing
extreme conditions," Moran says. "They will have to begin dispersing
portions of their herds if extra forage sources are not made available
The 45 counties are in the midst of a five- to six-year drought. Lack of
winter and spring precipitation has led to significant forage shortages.
In addition to degraded pasture conditions, recent fires resulting from
unseasonably dry foliage have worsened the problem in some counties.
A total of 109 loads of hay were sold at Lancaster-area
hay auctions during the week ending May 22, according to the
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Web site. Alfalfa sold for
$140-205/ton; mixed hay, for $130-205/ton; and timothy, for
$160-192/ton. Thirty-eight loads of straw brought $120-170/ton.
Sixty-nine loads of hay were auctioned off in central Pennsylvania, with
alfalfa selling for $170-225/ton. Mixed hay went for $120-200/ton and
timothy, for $145-200/ton. Eight loads of straw brought $100-152/ton.
The Diffenbach Auction in New Holland sold 31 loads of hay. Alfalfa
averaged $160-180/ton, with a few loads selling for $250/ton. Mixed hay
ranged from $145 to $230/ton, with some bringing $260/ton. Timothy sold
for $160-190/ton; grass hay, for $142-280/ton. Seven loads of straw
ranged from $127 to $170/ton.
The Middleburg Auction sold 33 loads of hay. Alfalfa brought
$185-225/ton; mixed hay brought $120-200/ton, with some hay going as
high as $230/ton. Timothy went for $145-200/ton, and one load brought
$250/ton. Grass hay sold for $117-150/ton. Two loads of straw brought
$95 and $220/ton.
View more Pennsylvania hay auction results at www.agriculture.state.pa.us/agriculture/cwp/view.asp?a=391&q=131582.
Demand has slowed, and there is not a lot of
good-quality hay available in the East, reports Charles Roff, Old
Dominion Hay Company, Smithfield, VA. Roff buys hay from throughout the
country and services the equine market in the Southeast. "Markets in
Pennsylvania shot up in February, March and April because supply was
down," he states. "Normally the market starts to slow down in April, but
both April and May were strong this year. Pennsylvania prices dictate
our market, and if hay gets high in the area, I will buy more hay from
the West or from Canada. However, it is early to say what is going on."
Roff says Pennsylvania growers started making hay about two weeks ago,
and growers in New York are just getting started. "New York's hay crop
was short last year and prices got up to $150/ton at the barn, which is
around $40-50/ton higher than we would normally see," he says.
Fuel prices and labor problems are constant challenges, Roff adds. He
expects immigration reform will hit many agricultural employers hard. He
has noticed that many smaller hay producers in his area are dropping
out because of increased equipment costs. "I see a lot of the hay
production moving West," he says.
Contact Roff at 757-357-4878.
Silvopasture Field Day Is June 15 In
A Silvopasture Field Day will be held Thursday, June
15, at the Mack Evans farm in Jakin, GA, near Blakely.
The major benefits of silvopasture, which manages tree and/or shrub
production with forage crops and livestock, are that many cool- and
warm-season grasses and legumes can yield high-quality forage when grown
under shade. This concept is being used to design integrated
timber/grazing systems in conifer stands, especially loblolly pine in
Evans, who is hosting the field day at his farm, received cost-share
funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to
help plant pasture grass. "Farmers often don't have the time or know
where to go for resources to implement new practices," says Donald
Surrency, NRCS plant materials specialist. "Touring the Mack Evans farm
may give other farmers just the motivation that they need to adopt
practices like silvopasture."
The field day will begin at 10 a.m. and feature topics such as planting
methods, forest stewardship, silvopasture concepts and the importance of
native grasses. The event is sponsored by the USDA-NRCS Jimmy Carter
Plant Materials Center, Auburn University, Fort Valley State University,
Alabama A&M University, USDA National Agroforestry Center, USDA-NRCS,
Georgia Forestry Commission and the Flint River Soil and Water
For more information, contact Surrency at 706-595-1339, ext. 109, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the Jimmy Carter Plant Materials Center at plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/gapmc/.
Source: The Weekly, Peachtree Corners, GA.
**June 12-15 -- Lost River Grazing Academy,
Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center north of
Salmon, ID. Program cost: $450/person. Management teams pay $450 for the
first member and $225 for each additional. Local participants can
register for the daylight part of the program for $125/day. To register,
call Jim Hawkins at 208-879-2344 or toll-free 877-854-9386.
**June 14-15 -- Four-State Dairy Nutrition And Management
Conference, Grand River Center, Dubuque, IA. Call Dave Fischer,
618-692-9434, or Leo Timms, 515-294-4522.
**June 15 -- Purdue University Forage Management Workshop, 8
a.m.-4:30 p.m. Registration is $80/person. Registration forms and
workshop brochures are available at www.agry.purdue.edu/dtc/open.htm.
For more information, call 765-496-3755 or email email@example.com.
**June 21 -- Intergenerational Transfer, New Swing 10 Parlor and
Freestall Tour and Intensive Grazing Pasture Walk, Chris and Angie Neis
Farm, 12433 Loran Road, Mt. Carroll, IL. Jim Morrison, University of
Illinois Extension, will discuss pasture species renovation and
fertility management. Contact Kevin Bernhardt, 608-342-1365.
**June 22 -- Montana Hay Day And Field Research Tour, Montana
State University Central Agricultural Research Center, 2 miles west of
Moccasin. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and tours at 9:30. A lunch
is scheduled. For more information, contact the center at 406-423-5421,
or David Wichman at 406-423-5421 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**July 6-8 -- Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference, University of
Missouri Southwest Research Center, Mt. Vernon. Learn more about the
conference and tours at agebb.missouri.edu/dairy/grazing/index.htm.
Mail registration to Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference, University of
Missouri Extension, 700 Main Street, Suite 4, Cassville, MO 65625 or
**July 19 -- Northeast Florida Beef And Forage Group Regional Hay
Field Day, North Florida Research and Education Center, Suwannee
Valley, Live Oak. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Refreshments, lunch
and packet included in $5 registration fee. Call Elena Toro at
386-752-5384 by July 14.
**Sept. 7-9 -- National Hay Association 111th Annual Convention,
Snow King Resort, Jackson Hole, WY. Call 800-707-0014 or visit www.nationalhay.org.
**Sept. 12 -- Kentucky Forage And Grassland Council Field Day,
Dobbs Shady Meadow Farm, Campbell County. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.
**Oct. 3-7 -- World Dairy Expo, Alliant Energy Center, Madison,
WI. Learn more at www.worlddairyexpo.com.
**Nov. 21 -- Kentucky Grazing Conference, Fayette County
Extension Office, Lexington. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.
**Dec. 11-13 -- Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Reno, NV.
Contact Dan Putnam at 530-752-8982 or email@example.com, or Glenn
Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**Jan. 18-19 -- Southwest Hay Conference, Ruidoso Convention
Center, Ruidoso, New Mexico. Contact Doug Whitney at email@example.com, or call Gina
Sterrett at 505-626-5677.
**Jan. 24-25 -- Heart Of America Grazing Conference, Holiday Inn,
Mount Vernon, IL. Contact Garry Lacefield at 270-365-7541, ext. 202, or
**Feb. 27 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Cave City Convention
Center. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.
**Feb. 28-March 2 -- National Grassfed Beef Conference,
Grantville, PA. Contact John Comerford at 814-863-3661 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dave Hartman at
570-784-6660, ext. 12, or email@example.com.
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