Know Your Horse-Hay Clients
(Part 1 of two-part series)
Getting to know who your customer is and what he or she wants is crucial
to success when selling hay to the equine market, says Randy Samko, vice
president of Seminole Feeds, Ocala, FL. His company buys several semi
loads of baled hay per week from throughout the U.S. for sale to horse
owners in the Southeast. Seminole Feeds also makes 41 horse feeds and
sells them through three company stores in Marion County, FL, and
through 150 independent feed dealers in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina
and Alabama. This means the company is responsible for helping 20,000
customers feed 50,000 horses every day, says Samko.
Acknowledging the challenges that sometimes come with catering to the
equine market, Samko, a horse owner himself, told attendees at last
week's Western Hay Business Conference & Expo that even with its quirks,
the horse industry can provide a good business opportunity for hay
growers. He points out National Research Council data that a 1,000-lb
horse eats around 20 lbs of hay and grain per day, and someone has to
provide that hay. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the
customer when targeting the horse hay market. "Who are you going to be
working with? Who is your customer," he asks. "If you are trying to sell
to the horse industry, the horse owner is the one you need to focus on,
regardless of whether you are a hay producer, broker or retailer." Samko
noted some interesting facts about the horse industry:
Samko says the U.S. horse industry is a discretionary income industry.
"Horse owners spend their discretionary income on their horses instead
of Harleys or fishing boats," he states. "Their horses often fall into
the pet or companion animal category and they spend money on them
accordingly." He separates horse owners into four basic ownership
groups, noting that each group also has various sub-categories.
- An American Horse Council survey done several years ago
estimated there were 9.2 million horses in the U.S., with the number
climbing closer to 10 million every day.
- There are close to 2 million horse owners in the U.S.
- 35% of U.S. horse owners earn less than $50,000 per year.
- 28% earn more than $100,000 per year.
- 70% live in towns with less than 50,000 people.
- The top three horse-owning states are Texas, California and Florida.
- The Southeast is experiencing an estimated 12-18% growth in the
equine industry each year. Samko says this growth represents a growing
demand for quality hay from the North and West.
Next week: Part 2 will address specific qualities horse hay customers
are seeking, as well as Samko's suggestions for success when targeting
hay sales to the equine market.
- Professional owners and trainers. These are people who make
their livelihood with horses at racetracks, training facilities, ranches
and breeding farms. Professional owners and trainers rely heavily on
quality feed products.
- Competitive riders. These horse owners compete in various
horse-related sports on a serious level, but are not professionals They
are interested in the performance of their feed products and price of
the product is a strong factor in their feed choices.
- Recreational riders and owners. They own horses and enjoy being part
of the horse industry. The group may include trail riders and people who
take their horses to a state park for the weekend. When buying
feedstuffs for their horses, recreational riders are interested in the
performance, price and availability of the product.
- Caretakers. This type of horse owner has a horse and may view it as
a "pasture pet." He or she may not even ride the horse. Caretakers have
no brand loyalty when choosing feed products, but are mainly focusing on
price and convenience.
Learn more about Seminole Feeds at www.seminolefeed.com/index.asp. Contact Samko at
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Overall, it was a pretty good year for making hay in
northern California, according to Steve Orloff, Siskiyou County
extension director, Yreka. "We started with very wet weather last
December, and then the moisture turned off and it got warm," he reports.
"There was some rain damage on the first cutting in our area." Prices
have been down $10-15/ton from last year's prices, although the last few
weeks have brought some price improvement, Orloff says. USDA reports
most producers in northern California have finished the last cutting for
the season, with a few expected to finish up this week. Area hay buyers
are looking hard out of state for supplies to be used the rest of the
Orloff was a featured speaker at last week's Western Hay Business
Conference & Expo in Spokane, WA. He presented strategies to get the
most hay from limited irrigation water. Contact him at 530-842-2711.
Learn more about the California hay marketing situation at the USDA
Market News Web site at www.ams.usda.gov/lsmnpubs/Hay.htm.
Demand for dairy hay has been strong, especially from
buyers in Oklahoma and Texas, and it's hard to find, reports Darren
Springer, Absolute Contracting, Bennington, NE. According to USDA,
precipitation and humidity levels the past few weeks have wreaked havoc
for growers trying to put up fourth and fifth cuttings in parts of
USDA reports that large square bales of supreme alfalfa hay with
relative feed value (RFV) greater than 185 were selling for $140/ton in
northeastern Nebraska last week. Large square bales of premium-quality
alfalfa (RFV 170-185) sold for $130-140/ton, good quality (RFV 150-170)
brought $115-120/ton and fair quality (RFV 130-150) went for $90/ton. In
round bales, good-quality alfalfa sold for $75-90/ton; fair quality, for
$60-80/ton. Alfalfa ground and delivered to feedlots brought $105/ton.
Good grass hay sold for $100/ton in small square bales; $80-85/ton in
large round bales. Dehydrated alfalfa pellets at 17% protein sold for
$160/ton, and big square bales of straw brought $45-50/ton.
In Nebraska's Platte Valley, USDA says small square bales of supreme
alfalfa hay sold for $160/ton last week. In large square bales, premium
hay sold for $125-135/ton; fair to good hay, for $90-110/ton. Good large
round bales sold for $85-90/ton; fair round bales, for $80/ton. Good
round bales of grass hay sold for $60-80/ton. Large square bales of oat
hay brought $80/ton, and round bales of straw sold for $60/ton. Alfalfa
ground and delivered to feedlots brought $125-130/ton; 17%-protein
dehydrated alfalfa pellets, $160/ton.
Springer is a hay broker who sells alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixes to
the dairy, horse and beef cattle markets. He also operates a trucking
business. He attended the Western Hay Business Conference & Expo in
Spokane, WA, last week. Contact him at 402-238-2009 (office) or
Learn more about Nebraska prices from USDA at www.ams.usda.gov/lsmnpubs/Hay.htm.
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This year's first and second cuttings were hammered
with rain, but the third cutting went up well in south-central Oregon,
says Scott Duffner, Silver Lake. He's the farm manager for Dinsdale
Farms, an integrated farming operation that includes a cow-calf
enterprise, around 5,000 acres of irrigated alfalfa and 1,000 acres of
seed oat production. About 400 of the alfalfa acres are certified
organic. "We produce around 5 tons/acre of certified organic alfalfa per
year for organic dairies," he explains. Dinsdale Farms is planning to
expand the certified organic acres because there seems to be a shortage
of organic hay. That hay typically sells at a $30/ton premium over
conventional hay. "I'm getting a lot of calls for organic hay," Duffner
reports. "Conventional hay is available in the area, but it's moving
quicker than it normally does, so we may have a shortage of conventional
hay this winter, too." Dinsdale Farms sells conventional hay to dairies
in western Oregon and into California and southwestern Washington.
Duffner spoke as part of the Innovative Hay Producer Panel at the
Western Hay Business Conference & Expo. Contact him at 541-576-2440.
Prices are good, but tonnage is down in parts of
Washington as a result of high temperatures this summer, according to
Jim Sircin and Larry Duffner, alfalfa growers near Ephrata. "Prices are
good, but there may not be enough hay available," says Sircin. "If we
get a lot of snow, we will be short on hay." He says the first and third
cuttings were bad because of rain. June was particularly wet. "I know of
very few producers who got hay up during June," Sircin says. "I'll bet
95% of the hay got wet."
Long periods of hot weather at other times during the summer made it
difficult to keep up with water, Duffner adds. "Grass hay is basically
non-existent in the area," he notes.
Duffner and Sircin attended the Western Hay Business Conference & Expo.
Duffner sells hay to horse producers and feed stores, while Sircin
targets the horse and dairy hay markets. Contact Sircin at 509-787-4186;
Duffner, at 509-787-0665.
Western Alfalfa and Forage Conference Is Dec. 11-13
The Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference is scheduled
for Dec. 11-13 in Reno, NV. Forty-one speakers will cover topics that
include economics, equipment, stand establishment, pest management,
irrigation, alternative forages, forage quality and risk management.
More than 500 hay growers, support industry people, educators,
professional crop advisors and exhibitors are expected to attend.
The registration deadline is Nov. 20. The conference will be held at
John Ascuagua's Nugget in Sparks. Make hotel reservations directly by
calling 800-648-1177. Mention the alfalfa conference when reserving
A preconference tour is scheduled for Dec. 11, with the conference and
exhibits running Dec. 12-13. A complete program is available online at
alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/2006AlfalfaConference. Contact Dan
Putnam, alfalfa/forage extension agronomist, University California,
Davis, at 530-752-8982 for more information.
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**Nov. 14-15 -- 2006 BEEF Magazine's Quality
Summit, Clarion Hotel, Oklahoma City. Learn more and sign up at www.beef-mag.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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or Glenn
Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or email@example.com.
**Jan. 17-18 -- 2007 Washington State Hay Growers Association Annual
Conference & Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick.
Contact the Washington State Hay Growers Association at 509-585-5460.
**Jan. 18-19 -- Southwest Hay Conference, Ruidoso Convention
Center, Ruidoso, NM. Learn more at the New Mexico Hay Association Web
site at www.nmhay.com.
Contact Doug Whitney at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Gina
Sterrett at 505-626-5677.
**Jan. 24-25 -- Heart Of America Grazing Conference, Holiday Inn,
Mount Vernon, IL. Contact Justin Sexten, University of Illinois
Extension Specialist, at 618-242-9310, or via email at email@example.com.
**Feb. 6-7 -- The Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's
Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE.
Visit www.alfalfaexpo.com or call Barb Kinnan at
**Feb. 7-8 -- Utah Hay & Forage Symposium, Holiday Inn Resort,
St. George, UT. Contact Thomas Griggs, 435-797-2259 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
**Feb. 9 -- Ohio Forage & Grassland Council Annual Conference,
Reynoldsburg. Contact Mark Sulc at 614-292-9084.
**Feb. 22 -- 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 email@example.com, or Dave Hartman at
570-784-6660, ext. 12, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**March 13-14 -- 2007 Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, KCI
Expo Center, Kansas City, MO. Learn more at hayconference.com/conference/index.htm.
**March 21-22 -- 2007 Central Plains Dairy Expo, Sheraton Inn,
Sioux Falls, SD. Learn more at www.centralplainsdairyexpo.com/ or call Kathy Tonneson
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