Hay stocks are up, but still below average

Weather challenges in 2019 left many cattle producers concerned about both the quantity and quality of hay heading into 2020.

Oklahoma State University livestock marketing specialist Derrell Peel says hay stocks are up from last year in most parts of the country.  “Basically, the Eastern half of the country, by in large, has lower year-over-year stocks,” he says.  “Whereas most of the Western part of the country are generally somewhat better shape.” But, he tells Brownfield, total hay product is still below the 5-year averages. 

Peel says quality is also a concern.  “For alfalfa hay – and particularly form a dairy perspective, where you really need that premium quality, I think there is quite a bit of concern and probably some issues happening with that,” he says.  “Even in areas where we’re talking about other hay, used primarily for beef cattle, even then there are some questions about quality.”

He’s urging producers to test their hay crop if they haven’t yet and says it could be a costly mistake if they don’t.  “If the quality is not what you think it is, and you don’t know – then you can be creating nutritional problems for these cows in whatever kind of production activity we’re talking about,” he says.  “You may not notice it right away.  You may not notice it until way later – but you can be setting up some problems down the road.”

While Missouri had the largest hay stocks and showed the most increase year over year (with stocks up 64.3 percent), stocks in Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Tennessee had year over year declines. 

AUDIO: Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University

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