Putting a tally on loads

Central and North Rural Weekly - - HAY AND SILAGE FEATURE -

THE move­ment of hay from Vic­to­ria and South Aus­tralia has been un­prece­dented but lim­ited sup­ply is stran­gling de­mand.

Quan­ti­fy­ing sup­ply and de­mand is tricky in the hay sec­tor, but one es­ti­mate puts the northerly move­ment of ce­real hay from the two south­ern states for the past fi­nan­cial year at 800,000 tonnes.

To de­rive this es­ti­mate, cal­cu­la­tions have been mod­elled on the sup­ply of hay avail­able, the po­ten­tial de­mand from the sheep and cat­tle pro­duc­ers in Queens­land and the num­ber of trucks that have been oper­at­ing on the roads dur­ing the year.

Some re­cently re­leased sta­tis­tics have con­firmed that hay pro­duc­tion in 2016 was prob­a­bly a record and cer­tainly the largest of the last 28 years.

At 8.08 mil­lion tonnes of hay, the 2016-17 pro­duc­tion was five per cent big­ger than 1995-96 and 2003-04.

Ce­real hay grow­ers in South Aus­tralia and Vic­to­ria started 2018 with full hay sheds and more stacked in pad­docks.

Rain at cur­ing time in 2016, com­bined with the record pro­duc­tion, had re­duced de­mand and many grow­ers were stor­ing twice the hay they would nor­mally.

Some 1.2 mil­lion tonnes of ce­real hay was pro­duced in Vic­to­ria in 2016 and 223,000 tonnes of hay and straw was ex­ported in the 2016-17 mar­ket­ing year.

Ac­count­ing for a nor­mal de­mand of 500,000 tonnes, a mas­sive 530,000 tonnes is es­ti­mated as the ton­nage car­ried over last Oc­to­ber.

Ac­count­ing for a mod­er­ate 700,000 tonnes of Vic­to­rian ce­real hay pro­duc­tion in 2017-18, 500,000 tonnes of Vic­to­rian de­mand this sea­son and some strate­gic carry-over stocks by ex­porters and live­stock pro­duc­ers later this year, at least 400,000 tonnes of hay can be com­mit­ted to the northerly de­mand.

SA pro­duces a sim­i­lar vol­ume of ce­real hay, ex­ports more but has lower de­mand within the state.

A sim­i­lar pic­ture of low 2016 de­mand and large carry-over ton­nages also sup­port a 400,000 tonne move­ment of hay to the north­ern states from SA.

On the de­mand side, the culling of cat­tle and sheep in NSW has been sub­stan­tial over the past 12 months.

If the 10 per cent of all breed­ing ewes and cows are fed a main­te­nance ra­tion, the an­nual de­mand for full hand feed­ing would tally an es­ti­mated 900,000 tonnes of hay in NSW and 1.3 mil­lion tonnes for Queens­land.

Clearly de­mands ex­ceeds sup­ply and some de­mand is be­ing met via in­ter­state pas­ture and vetch hay and other com­modi­ties.

Hay car­ri­ers have been fran­tic, mov­ing equal vol­umes from SA and Vic­to­ria.

One big car­rier oper­at­ing nine road trains has moved 42,000 tonnes for the 12 months to June 30.

With­out count­ing hay trucks as they cross the 11 bridges over the Mur­ray River, car­ri­ers and ma­jor sup­pli­ers have es­ti­mated that on av­er­age 300 trail­ers of hay have headed north each week in the past year, cul­mi­nat­ing in a peak of 700 trailer loads in au­tumn.

This pace can­not be sus­tained but buy­ers will see new crop hay avail­able in six weeks time.

PHOTO: ALF WIL­SON

STRONG DE­MAND: Sta­tis­tics con­firm hay pro­duc­tion in 2016 was a record and the largest of the last 28 years.

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