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 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication September 19, 2006 |  
Beating The Weather With Baleage
Top of the News Weigh Need With Risk Before Last Cutting New Online Source Provides Horse Care Information
State Reports Iowa Pennsylvania
Events Marketing Strategies Offered At Oct. 24-25 Conference Calendar
Comments from Readers Send Questions & Comments To...

This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Hoards Dairyman


Beating The Weather With Baleage
Larry Matlack, Burrton, KS, worked hard to produce a consistent, high-quality, green, soft dairy hay despite the weather. Yet after calculating that he was losing more than $40,000 on one 235-acre irrigated circle, he changed from mostly dry dairy hay to baleage.

"I wanted to be a price setter, not a price taker," he states. "Year in and year out, about 60% of our alfalfa hay was getting damaged and couldn't be sold as dairy hay after being rained on or harvested too late because of weather. I made a management choice to bale the hay before it rains and wrap the bales."

Matlack produces 3 x 4', 2,000-lb bales wrapped in an ultraviolet-light-inhibited stretch film. He tries to bale within 25-35% moisture if shipping the product long distance, or within 35-45% moisture for closer clients. A forage inoculant is added to speed ensiling.

He can wrap over 100 bales per hour and plastic costs about $2.50/bale. The cost of owning and operating the tube wrapper is comparable to the cost of other storage systems. "We average around $100/acre more profit and ended up with year-round wrapped hay customers when we started using this system," he states. "We average less than 1% damaged hay. We go to the field when the dew is coming off, around 9 a.m., and we don't work at night anymore. It has been a good system for us, but it takes more management, not less."

Matlack puts up about 80% of his dairy hay as bale silage and 10% as dry hay. The rest becomes grinding hay. He ships most of his hay within a 350- to 400-mile radius. He also wraps dry hay and has found it can be a palatable feed for grinding, creating less dust and less waste.

Matlack and his brother, Bill, own Stinger, Ltd., Haven, KS, which sells bale wrappers and stackers. Contact him at 800-530-5304.

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Top of the News
Weigh Need With Risk Before Last Cutting
Midwestern growers who are taking final cuts of alfalfa in September or October better be sure they'll get good tonnage -- or have a great need for it, says Mark Sulc, extension forage specialist with Ohio State University.

Midwestern growers have been warned for years not to cut alfalfa in early fall because of increased risk of winter injury. Yet many do despite research showing that tonnage gained by cutting then is often lost in the first cutting the following year. Plus, the added stress to alfalfa could ultimately shorten stand life, Sulc adds.

It's best, he says, to let alfalfa fields build up cold resistance and energy reserves for winter survival during those critical months. And only take a late fall cutting in well-drained soils after a killing frost, when temperatures reach 25 degrees or less for several hours. Then be sure to leave 6" of stubble.

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New Online Source Provides Horse Care Information
Extension service equine specialists from across the U.S. are working to provide research-based information on many equine topics online at The new Web site, called HorseQuest, features information about feeding horses, in addition to facility, health-care, and reproduction information. HorseQuest also features one-on-one live chats with equine experts. The one-hour chats feature three extension service specialists addressing various topics.

Source: North Dakota State University.

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Looking for a new baler? Look to the future. New Holland BB-A balers are designed for the highest capacity baling with innovative options such as the CropCutter™ feeding system for shorter particle length, denser bales and more digestible feed for livestock. To learn more, see your local New Holland dealer or call 1-888-290-7377.
State Reports
Recent rains and a surplus of fair-quality hay have helped lower hay prices in much of Iowa, says Bob Humpal, owner of Fort Atkinson Hay Auction. "We really don't have too much choice hay here, just the 100-125 relative feed value hay," he says. "We've got lots of hay. Most people got four cuttings and there are guys making their fifth cuttings now. We normally ship hay in and now we are shipping hay out." Humpal has been getting calls from people in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado looking for hay.

Straw is selling higher than hay in northeastern Iowa. "This is the first time since I've been in business that this has happened," Humpal states. "The straw market is averaging $100/ton."

At the same time, Iowa dairymen are having a hard time making ends meet because of low milk prices. "Local dairymen are using more soybean meal in their dairy rations," he says.

Fort Atkinson's hay auctions are held every Wednesday at 1 p.m. Learn more at or call 563-534-7513.

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There is a very strong demand for hay in Pennsylvania, reports David Fink, Heidel Hollow Farm, Inc., Germansville. He says the hay season kicked off with dry conditions in March and early April. "This hurt yields on the grasses, but the quality was fantastic," he says. Mixed hay has had good yields and has been of good quality this year in his area. "Our first cutting of alfalfa was average. Then it rained, so it was tough to get a second cut," Fink states. "We had lots of tonnage with the second cut, but poor quality. The third cut was light, but good quality. We are not taking a fourth cutting."

David, his wife, Sonia, and sons Michael and Travis, maintain 1,500 crop acres and produce 900 acres of hay. Their farm is along the southern slope of the Appalachian Mountains in east-central Pennsylvania, just two hours from New York City and Philadelphia. The Finks produce and market high-quality hay and forage products for the dairy and horse markets, in addition to a line of barley straw pond treatment products. They grow and sell compressed Bale-In-A-Bag alfalfa, mixed hay, grass hay and straw, among other products.

Contact Fink at 610-767-2409. Visit Heidel Hollow Farm at

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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.
Marketing Strategies Offered At Oct. 24-25 Conference
Speakers at the upcoming Western Hay Business Conference & Expo, sponsored by Hay & Forage Grower, will share tips about how to successfully sell hay to key markets. Scheduled for Oct. 24-25 at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park in Spokane, WA, the conference will kick off with a panel of innovative hay growers discussing ways to increase sales and profits. Other speakers will cover hay export opportunities, producing hay for the horse market, organic hay production and financial planning considerations for hay growers.

Come to the conference to learn how to squeeze more profit from your hay business. Learn more about maximizing yields and profits from timothy and orchardgrass. Visit a hay industry specific trade show and ask industry experts all about their products and services.

Register for $150 per person and bring a second person from your operation for $125. Learn more at

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**Sept. 21-24 -- World Beef Expo, Wisconsin State Fair Park near Milwaukee. Learn more at, or call 414-266-7050.

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

**Oct. 17-19 -- Sunbelt Ag Exposition, Moultrie, GA. Visit or call 229-985-1968.

**Oct. 20-21 -- 5th Annual Pennsylvania Statewide Project Grass Conference, Williamsport. Featured speakers include Jim Gerrish and Allen Williams, plus many more. Contact Kris Ribble at or 570-784-4401, ext. 111.

**Oct. 24-25 -- Western Hay Business Conference & Expo, Red Lion Hotel at the Park, Spokane, WA. Sponsored by Hay & Forage Grower. Register at $150 per person and bring a second person from your operation for $125. Learn more at

**Nov. 14-15 -- 2006 BEEF Magazine's Quality Summit, Clarion Hotel, Oklahoma City. Learn more and sign up at

**Nov. 21 -- Kentucky Grazing Conference, Fayette County Extension Office, Lexington. Learn more at

**Dec. 11-13 -- Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Reno, NV. Contact Dan Putnam at 530-752-8982 or, or Glenn Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or

**Jan. 18-19 -- Southwest Hay Conference, Ruidoso Convention Center, Ruidoso, NM. Learn more at the New Mexico Hay Association Web site at Contact Doug Whitney at 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. 6-7 -- Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE. Visit or call Barb Kinnan at 800-743-1649.

**Feb. 27 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Cave City Convention Center. Learn more at

**Feb. 28-March 2 -- National Grassfed Beef Conference, Grantville, PA. Contact John Comerford at 814-863-3661 or, or Dave Hartman at 570-784-6660, ext. 12, or

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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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