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Weekly: Brought to you by Hay & Forage
 Hay & Forage
 USDA Hay Prices
 A Prism Business Media Publication November 28, 2006 |  
Feeding Grass Hay To Beef Cows
Top of the News How Much Forage Will Beef Cows Eat? Online Equine Health, Disease Info Report Shows More U.S. Dairy Cows
State Reports Midwest Online List Helps Locate Hay
Events Horse Owner Education Programs Set Calendar
Comments from Readers Send Questions & Comments To...

This Week's USDA Hay Prices by State

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Feeding Grass Hay To Beef Cows
By Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska agronomist
Farmers and ranchers often tell me their prairie, cane, or other grass hay looked really good, but the relative feed value (RFV) was surprisingly low. Protein was good, TDN was okay, and the animals did just fine. So what's wrong with relative feed value?

Actually, nothing is wrong. But we must understand how RFV is calculated and how it should be used. First, it is calculated using only fiber values. Even though protein certainly affects the value of hay, it is not part of the RFV calculation.

Initially developed for the dairy industry, RFV was designed to help rank the potential energy intake of different hays by lactating dairy cows. And it does this quite well, especially for legumes like alfalfa.

Grass hay, though, is more difficult. Grass has more fiber than alfalfa, which lowers its RFV. Yet that fiber often is more digestible than alfalfa fiber.

RFV also doesn't predict performance by other types of animals, such as beef cows, as well. That's because potential energy intake doesn't have as much influence on their performance.

What this basically means is that when you feed grass hay to animals other than dairy cows, focus on crude protein and TDN. The RFV is much less important and could cause you to worry more than it's worth.

Source: University of Nebraska Beef Cattle Production Web site (

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How Much Forage Will Beef Cows Eat?
By Rick Rasby, University of Nebraska Animal Scientist
A number of factors determine the daily intake of a beef cow. The primary ones are forage or diet quality, cow weight and stage of production. Cows that weigh 1,300 lbs will consume more on a daily basis compared to 1,100-lb cows. In addition, lactating cows will consume more feed than non-lactating cows. Intake is different for cows in early lactation compared to late lactation, too.

Some thumb rules help estimate daily feed intake -- on a dry matter basis -- of cows consuming forages of differing qualities when they are gestating or lactating. When forage quality is low (52% TDN or less) and cows are not lactating, they will consume 1.8% of their weight. If the forage quality is average (TDN content between 52% and 59%), non-lactating cows will consume about 2% of their body weight daily. As an example, if the forage were 55% TDN and lactating cows weigh an average of 1,200 lbs, it could be estimated that they would daily eat 28 lbs (1,200 lbs x 0.023) of hay on a dry matter basis. If the hay were 88% dry matter, on an as-fed basis cows would eat about 32 lbs (28 lbs/0.88) daily. With 200 cows, it would take about 3.2 tons of this hay per day [(200 head x 32 lbs/head/day)/2,000 lbs] not accounting for any waste.

To take it one more step, the 1,200-lb cow during its first 90 days post-calving, producing 20 lbs of milk at peak production, needs to consume 2.7 lbs of protein daily. If the hay is 8% crude protein and the cow consumes 28 lbs of hay, she will eat 2.24 lbs of protein (28 lbs x 0.08). After calving, this hay will need to be spiked with protein to meet the protein requirement. Likewise, if she needs 16.0 lbs of TDN daily, then 28 lbs of a forage that's 55% TDN yields 15.4 lbs of TDN consumed. This forage will need to be spiked with energy. A small amount of a good-quality alfalfa could fit the need.

Source: University of Nebraska Beef Cattle Production Web site (

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Online Equine Health, Disease Info
A Web site providing equine health and disease surveillance information has been developed by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in cooperation with the American Horse Council. From vesicular stomatitis to West Nile, this site has the latest information for horse enthusiasts. It also provides information on animal movement requirements. Visit

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Report Shows More U.S. Dairy Cows
U.S. dairy cow numbers totaled 8.25 million head in October. This represents a nation-wide increase of 2,000 head from September reports and 78,000 more cows than were on hand one year ago, according to the recent USDA Milk Production report.

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State Reports
Sales activity was light due to the holiday week in many parts of the Midwest, according to the University of Wisconsin. Hay prices were steady in Nebraska and demand was moderate to good for dairy-quality hay. Iowa hay prices were reported to be higher than they had been, with light to moderate sales activity. South Dakota hay prices were mixed, and tended to be higher than in previous weeks. Southwestern Minnesota prices were mixed to slightly higher; demand and sales activity were good.

In Missouri, hay prices were steady, with moderate to good demand and moderate to light supply. Temperatures were reported as above normal, leading to slightly less hay being fed due to a lack of snow or freezing temperatures. What little grass pasture available is quickly disappearing, and most farmers have been feeding. Many growers in some areas have fed some during summer and fall, and are having a hard time locating hay. Parts of the state are said to be bringing in hay from quite a distance.

Midwestern straw prices averaged $2.74 for small square bales, $25 for large square bales and $22 for large round bales. Large square bale prices have been steady; small square prices were up 25% over the previous week.

Prime hay (greater than 151 RFV/RFQ) averaged $129/ton for small square bales, $125/ton for large square bales, and $92/ton for large round bales.

Grade 1 hay (125-150 RFV/RFQ) averaged $73/ton for large square bales and $63/ton for large rounds.

Grade 2 hay (103-124 RFV/RFQ), brought an average of $60/ton for large squares and $46 for large rounds.

Source: Ken Barnett, University of Wisconsin.

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Online List Helps Locate Hay
Many parts of Minnesota experienced the worst drought in nearly 20 years, and some livestock producers are having difficulty finding hay and other forage, says Paul Peterson, University of Minnesota agronomist. Surrounding areas were also affected, he adds.

To help, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and extension services in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and South Dakota have developed an online tool to help connect hay buyers and sellers in the U.S. and Canada. The Upper Midwest Hay List is a self-service, free site. Lots are not required to be located within sponsoring states. Users do not need to register with the system for searches, but are required to register to enter buyer or seller lots.

Registration provides a hay list ID that allows users to easily revise, add or remove lots. Buyer and seller lots can be searched by hay type, bale type, geographic proximity, state or province, etc. Lots stay in the system for 60 days. Sellers assume all responsibility for accurately listing their hay lots, and information is not verified by the sponsoring organizations.

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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.
Horse Owner Education Programs Set
The 2007 Regional Horse Owner Education Program schedule has been set, according to the University of Minnesota Extension Service. It will be held Feb. 10 in St. Paul, Feb. 17 in Crookston, Feb. 24 in Rochester, March 10 in Foley and March 24 in Cloquet.

Preregistration is required for all programs. The cost to attend a program is $35/person, including lunch and printed materials. Learn more and register at, or call 888-241-0719 for more information.

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**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

**Dec. 13-14 -- Kansas Hay & Grazing Conference, Kansas State Fairgrounds, Hutchinson. Call Gary Kilgore at 620-431-1530.

**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 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 Justin Sexten, University of Illinois, at 618-242-9310 or

**Feb. 6-7 -- The Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE. Visit or call Barb Kinnan at 800-743-1649.

**Feb. 7-8 -- Utah Hay & Forage Symposium, Holiday Inn Resort, St. George. Details for participants and exhibitors are available at, or contact Thomas Griggs at 435-797-2259 or

**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

**Feb. 26-27 -- 2007 Idaho Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Red Lion Canyon Springs Hotel, Twin Falls. More details will be available 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

**March 13-14 -- 2007 Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, KCI Expo Center, Kansas City, MO. Learn more at

**March 14-15 -- 2007 Manitoba Forage Symposium, MacDon Product Showcase Building, Winnipeg, MB, CA. For more info, visit or contact Tanis Sirski at 204-768-2781 or

**March 21-22 -- 2007 Central Plains Dairy Expo, Sheraton Inn, Sioux Falls, SD. Learn more at or call Kathy Tonneson at 218-236-8420.

**June 23-26 -- 2007 American Forage and Grassland Council and Northeast Branch ASA & SSSA Annual Conference, Penn State Conference Center and Hotel, State College. Call 800-944-AFGC or email

** Jan 27-Feb. 1, 2008 -- Joint Society for Range Management and American Forage and Grassland Council Conference, Louisville, KY. Visit

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Comments from Readers
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Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

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