Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Hey! Need hay? Update on Horse Haymaking for 2020

1st cut 2020 hay - Photo Courtesy of Willowview Hill Farm, Stamford NY.

Farmers are busy baling hay and closing out their 1st cut 2020 season. The weather has been difficult this year and yields are down for 3 reasons:

  1. The late start to Spring weather and lack of snow cover over winter dished out a slow start to the growing season for all types of hay.
  2. The lack of Spring rains cut down on the yield.
  3. The good weather had farmers taking advantage of the opportunity to get busy knocking down hay earlier than usual so many of us saw a lower yield.
What does this mean to the consumer looking for 2020 1st cut hay?

Yields being down 30-40% in some cases mean hay prices have seen an increase according to the USDA.

The hay available is of very good quality in general, as most farmers did cut earlier so the seed heads are still on the grasses and the stems soft. The drier weather also helped hay producers avoid rained out haycrops on the field in the NE USA so the nutritional quality should be higher.

The earlier hay cutting opportunity also means many cow farmers are taking advantage of a midsummer 2nd cutting for silage and will take their usual 2nd cut as a 3rd cut later in the season. This may mean the horse hay available on their second baling will come in later and may suffer from curing issues with the hay lessening quality if pushed too late into the Fall. 

When less 1st cut is available customers will be forced into buying more expensive 2nd cut that is around. Either way - 1st cut may be harder to come by if you don't stock up with enough for winter and have to start searching high and low for it in the Spring. 

Rainfall in July in the North-East has not been significant so we wait and see how yield on the 2nd crop comes in. 

Photo Courtesy: Willowview Hill Farm, Stamford, NY

All in all it would be smart as a consumer in need of horse hay supplies, to stock up sooner rather than later to ensure supply needs can be met and hay costs are kept under control.

Tip: If you choose to buy large rounds or squares consider buying an equine hay feeder as they can save you up to 30% on hay costs according to University of Minnesota research.

Photo Courtesy of Horizon Structures LLC, Atglen, PA

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