Dry conditions lead to low quality hay
HAY trucks are becoming a common sight on country roads as demand ramps up under the extended dry conditions.
Hay supplies are declining as buyers sift through the offerings, selecting the best value product for their livestock needs.
According to growers, the best quality parcels of
2017-baled hay have already been sold. This leaves buyers with the option of lower quality hay baled last year or the
2016-baled hay and the various quality challenges that come from storing hay for 19 months.
As hay is being delivered this autumn, many buyers are surprised the level of mice infestation is relatively mild.
Buyers believe infestation levels of oaten hay with some grain content are no worse than a normal year and that an increased awareness of mice has meant that hay growers have been particularly vigilant in baiting for mice around their sheds this year.
The best value purchases for domestic buyers have been those parcels of oaten hay that were rejected by exporters due to excessive rye-grass content. The soft and palatable rye-grass content is not a barrier to livestock feeding.
The decline in hay listed for sale has been remarkable mainly due to buyers from NSW venturing further south of the Murray River to secure hay and straw.
The northern and southern tablelands and the central west of NSW have a consistent demand for fodder given the dry autumn so far.
If the current demand is maintained without any further tonnage coming on to the market, the vetch hay listings will be depleted within two weeks, the oaten hay listings within five weeks and straw listings 10 weeks.
There appears to be little relief to the dry autumn.
Deferred forecasts for the seven to 14 day period last weekend called for some useful falls of 25mm in the central western areas of NSW but these have been removed from subsequent forecasts.
Little rain is forecast for areas such as East Gippsland, the Mallee and western NSW, which are desperate for rain.
The dry autumn has seen an increase in cattle sold and a fall in beef prices.
A more promising outlook for wool and lamb has meant that few sheep producers are culling stock, choosing to buy fodder and feed through the current shortage.
Woolgrowers near Kyneton have been worried about their season receiving only 10mm of the 54mm April average.