Hay Report - 12 May 2017

National Summary

  • Hay trading around the country continued at a relatively slow pace this week with a low demand being reported by hay traders.
  • A small lift was noted in enquiry in the south as farmers look ahead, assessing their fodder requirements for the remainder of the year. Prices firmed in some regions as a result of this stirring, the first sign of activity in weeks from a long stagnated market. There continues to be an oversupply of fodder however, and poorer quality feed is particularly difficult to move.
  • Northern regions continued to have the greater appetite for purchased feed, but still demand hasn’t returned to the levels it reached pre-cyclone Debbie. Supply remains an issue in the north, but recent rain has delayed action for some by providing new grass feed and ultimately a more positive outlook.
  • With the amount of hay that’s experienced weather damage, we continue to advocate the value of getting a feed test, and mould and yeast tests before purchase.

Northern Australia - Summary

  • Hay prices were mostly stable this week as a result of a generally low demand from farmers.
  • With the exception of those areas impacted by recent flooding, some recent rainfall has been vital in improving the feed situation for farmers following months of dry conditions.
  • Reports from hay traders suggest that the level of enquiry is growing once again but has not yet resulted in a major increase in trading.
  • A more positive outlook is being described by growers in Queensland as winter crops look to have a good start following the rain.
  • Fodder continues to be freighted from southern regions to bolster a dwindling supply in the north. Some hay traders have put this on hold over the past fortnight however as future interest remains uncertain.
  • Summer crops were particularly poor this season with the heat and lack of rainfall.
  • Straw has suffered too with low supply throughout northern regions after crops struggled to cope with the heat.
  • Feed tests continue to show great variability in hay quality farm to farm. It can be said that generally fodder quality is poorer than previous years.

Southern Australia - Summary

  • Reports suggest a small lift in trading occurred in some southern regions this week.
  • Most demand is currently for protein hay.
  • Some prices have firmed in the south this week as a result of a growing demand.
  • There are a lot of farmers now sitting out of the market however, with enough feed in sheds and grass in paddocks, at least for the next few weeks.
  • The oversupply which was developed through last year’s favourable spring is still creating frustration from growers and hay traders who are having difficulty moving fodder.
  • Some growers are looking to hold onto their feed until prices firm or seasonal conditions dictate a return of buyer interest. With the general abundance of supply and so far, a positive outlook for the coming season, this may not occur.
  • Other growers are now looking to offload stored feed at far reduced prices in order to simply break even and make room in sheds. This is seemingly getting the market going again.
  • Much of the vetch available in southern region is of a poor quality with some reports that it is being rejected by stock.
  • Most hay now sitting in paddocks has been badly damaged by rain.
  • Silage too has been quite poor all round this year with many farmers using supplements to ensure proper nutritional balance for cattle.

Western Australia - Summary

  • The hay market in western regions remains generally slow with only small volumes of fodder being traded.
  • With good pasture availability and home-grown fodder stocks still widely available, demand is low for farmers.
  • The severe rain events some time ago have worsened the overall quality level of fodder in the west.
  • Quality is highly variable from farm to farm but there is some good quality hay available from growers that have been able to store feed.
  • There are good volumes of export quality feed which cannot be utilised by exporters at this time and this is overflowing onto the domestic market.

Regional Commentary

Atherton Tablelands

  • Hay prices remained unchanged this week despite a narrowing supply in surrounding northern regions.
  • Demand and trading in the region itself remains slow.
  • Good supplies of home grown fodder remain throughout the region in sheds adding to the lack of overall demand.
  • While production is up this year, quality is reportedly below average and highly variable from farm to farm.
  • We recommend getting a feed test and using a trusted supplier this year as it will be imperative to obtaining value for money.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($220 to $240/t). Prices have remained steady this week.
  • Note: Hay in the Atherton Tablelands is traditionally priced at $/bale so it is important to check bale weights for conversion to a $/t rate.

Darling Downs

  • Trading is building slowly in the region again after a fortnight’s lull.
  • No price changes were recorded this week but reports indicate we could see increases in the coming month.
  • Following recent rainfall, there is a more optimistic outlook for fodder security in the region.
  • Fodder continues to be transported from southern regions to bolster supply in the north and to compete on price.
  • Summer crops like millet were particularly poor this year due to the dry conditions and resulted in little pasture hay trading.
  • Despite a challenging season overall, there are some parts of the region that have surpassed expectations in terms of production.
  • Due to the variability of hay quality in the region, we suggest using only a trusted supplier and requesting a feed test and mould and yeast test when purchasing feed.
  • Straw is particularly hard to come across in the region as the majority available is reportedly weather damaged.
  • Cereal hay: +$0 ($280 to $340/t). Prices have remained stable this week.
  • Lucerne hay +$0 ($380 to $450/t). Prices have remained stable this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($140 to $160/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($230 to $260/t) Prices remain steady this week however this is based on limited trading.

North Coast NSW

  • There were no major changes to hay prices this week due to the lack of substantial trading.
  • Some parts of the region have experienced bad flood damage from the recent cyclone Debbie and will require greater volumes of purchased fodder in the coming weeks. Other more fortunate farmers have enjoyed the return of grass feed in paddocks, easing demand.
  • Comments suggest cash flow is tight for many farmers in the region following a poor season for hay production.
  • Many farmers are now looking at their feed budgets and accessing their fodder requirements for the rest of the year.
  • Due to recent weather events and a low supply of feed, we suggest obtaining a feed test when purchasing fodder this year to ensure value for money.
  • Cereal hay: +$0 ($250 to $300/t). Prices have remained steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +$0 ($350 to $420/t). Prices have remained steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($130 to $150/t). Prices have remained stable this week.
  • Pasture hay: +$0 ($200 to $260/t). Prices have remained stable week.

Central West NSW

  • Limited trading occurred this week with reports indicating a slight jump in demand for protein hay.
  • Prices for lucerne eased at the bottom end this week with mostly quality in the low-mid range being traded.
  • Hay moving to northern regions has slowed in recent weeks as the demand weakens from farmers in the north following rain.
  • Farmers within the Central West have in most cases got good supplies of fodder in sheds.
  • Comments suggest that farmers are now starting to consider their feed requirements through the winter as temperatures begin to cool off.
  • Hay quality in the region is mixed. While generally testing poorer than last year, some good quality feed does exist in sheds.
  • Any hay sitting out in paddocks at this point has been almost certainly badly weather damaged.
  • Hay prices remain well back from previous years however buyers are urged to get a feed test and mould and yeast test to ensure value for money.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($130 to $180/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: -$20 ($250 to $330/t) Prices eased this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($100 to $120/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($150 to 170/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Bega Valley

  • A slow market was reported again this week, with low demand from farmers.
  • Most trading in the region continues to be small quantities to some dairy farmers with feed pads.
  • The region has seen the return of plentiful pasture limiting urgency to buy and some rough silage being produced.
  • Reports indicate farmers have been surprised by how well the countryside has bounced back from a dry summer after recent rains.
  • Farmers are now starting to consider their feed requirements for the remainder of the year but the pressure is off somewhat from last month.
  • Prices for cereal hay did firm slightly this week mostly as a result of greater freight costs to deliver fodder into the area.
  • Overall it has been a particularly challenging season for hay producers in the region with a harvest marred by inclement weather and an early dry finish.
  • We recommend obtaining a feed test and only using a trusted supplier when buying fodder in the region this year.
  • Cereal hay: +$10 ($200 to $230/t). Prices firmed this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($320 to $350/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($120 to $150/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($180 to $210/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Goulburn/Murray Valley

  • Hay trading in the region remains slow with the market reportedly almost at a standstill.
  • Good supply is evident amongst most farmers following a bumper season for production.
  • It was noted that a number of dairy farmers are struggling financially which adding to the slow state of the market.
  • There are some reports of hay being sold for $35-$40 roll which is potentially a more palatable pricing indicator than the per tonne price, especially for smaller orders.
  • Hay prices are holding well back from previous years and with no urgency to buy from farmers, will most likely stay this way for some months; those who are buying are looking for the cheapest possible options to fill the gap until sufficient pasture is available.
  • It was noted that the next two months will be critical to how the rest of the hay season will take shape.
  • Demand from up north is still to be fully realised but some interest is coming from the east Gippsland region now which remains dry although it is expected that there will be strong competition on price to sell into this region.
  • Agistment is also proving difficult to secure adding to the longer-term predicament of securing reliable, cost competitive feed sources for cattle.
  • Water is currently trading at $35m/l which makes irrigation for pastures more cost effective than purchasing fodder.
  • We recommend getting a mould and yeast test and feed test to ensure value for money when purchasing feed this season
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($110 to $130/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($240 to $260/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($110 to $140/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: No supply reportedly available.

Gippsland

  • Prices for cereal hay have firmed this week following a fortnight of steady increase in interest in all types of fodder.
  • Pasture availability is still good throughout the region, but reports indicate farmers are looking ahead to future feed requirements and covering them before prices rise significantly.
  • Comments suggest much of Gippsland is traveling well having produced good supplies of home-grown fodder.
  • It appears south Gippsland has better supply than the northern section and demand is subsequently lower.
  • The quality of hay and silage produced in the region is of variable quality with substantial volumes of lower quality fodder available. Silage is testing particularly poorly as is vetch.
  • We recommend obtaining a mould and yeast test, a feed test and using a trusted a supplier when purchasing fodder this year to ensure value for money.
  • Cereal hay: +$20 ($190 to $210/t). Prices firmed this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($300 to $330/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($130 to $160/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($160 to $190/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Southwest Victoria

  • A lift in enquiry has been noted by hay traders over the past fortnight resulting in a small price rise for cereal and lucerne.
  • Most demand is for protein hay as cows are coming in and silage is starting to run out for some or is too poor in quality to be used.
  • The market is still slow generally, with the vast majority of farmers continuing to have good enough stores in sheds and grass feed on farm.
  • Hay that has not properly been stored from the weather by now will be badly damaged by rainfall.
  • Comments suggest some growers are trying to offload hay stacked outside for as cheap as $80/t plus delivery. All top and bottom bales of hay not stored appropriately are now useless.
  • Hay produced in the region is of variable quality so we suggest getting a mould and yeast test as well as a feed test.
  • Vetch has been particularly poor this year with a number of traders unwilling to touch it. Prices are currently sitting around $280/t for the better stuff.
  • Cereal hay: +$18 ($150 to $190/t). Prices firmed this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +$10 ($280 to $310/t). Prices firmed this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($120 to $130/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($140 to $160/t).Prices remain steady this week.

Southeast South Australia

  • Trading remained mostly slow in the region this week however prices have firmed slightly as a result of growing enquiry from Victoria.
  • Low demand continues to be reported by farmers in the region with no predicted lift in the market expected for at least the coming month.
  • Demand from northern regions is expected to grow over the following month as their supply tightens up.
  • Most farmers in the Southeast have good supplies of hay in sheds, so much so that there is an oversupply in the region.
  • Reports indicate a lot of hay has been weather damaged due to the amount still sitting out in paddocks with many growers having made too much hay to store this season; some outside weather damaged hay has been selling for around $90/t.
  • With the boost in production, a great number of farmers will look to cover a lot of their feed requirements on farm. This could result in less hay being traded in the region generally this season.
  • With the amount of weather damaged hay available, we suggest getting a mould a yeast test and feed test to ensure the quality of purchased fodder.
  • Cereal hay: +$5 ($120 to $160/t). Prices firmed this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +$10 ($220 to $260/t). Prices firmed this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($90 to $120/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($120 to 150/t) Prices remain steady this week.

Central South Australia

  • Little trading is currently taking place in the region resulting is no price changes this week.
  • Farmers in the central SA region have good supplies in sheds and have no urgency or capacity to buy and store more.
  • Recent rain has lifted pasture somewhat, further softening any demand. Generally the region is quite dry however.
  • Comments suggest that over the fence trading continues to take place, but this is not impacting prices.
  • Demand from northern regions as far as Queensland has also moderated recently.
  • Many growers continue to sit out of the market and unwilling to part with hay until prices firm.
  • A recent shed fire has destroyed a large export plant in the region; this is seeing more export grade feed hit the domestic market.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($110 to 140/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($230 to 260/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($80 to $110/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: N/A. No reported trading.

Southwest Western Australia

  • Little demand was reported from farmers in the region this week resulting in no changes to hay prices again.
  • The export industry continues to dominate the market as the primary target for growers and dictates pricing for cereal hay.
  • The strong season for hay production has seen a great deal of export grade feed overflow into the domestic market and with good supplies of this remaining in sheds, there is uncertainty how much exporters will accept.
  • A negative of the increased production has seen a lot of hay sit in paddocks and open to rain damage.
  • When buying hay this year, obtaining mould and yeast tests as well as feed tests will be paramount to ensuring value for money when purchasing hay.
  • A focus on home-grown fodder and pastures will most likely limit trading for the coming months.
  • Prior to recent rain, growers had reported a fantastic season both in terms of supply and quality.
  • Generally speaking, the region’s report of quality is still far more positive than most eastern states.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($160 to $220/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($450 to $520). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($90 to $110/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($150 to $200/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Northwest Tasmania

  • Slow trading has continued in the region this week with most orders for small order.
  • This has resulted in no major changes to hay prices this week.
  • The region has dried in recent weeks and it has been suggested that the next month could see a lift in demand.
  • The quality of feed around the region is highly variable, but some good quality feed was made later in the season.
  • A good number of dairy farmers will look to cover their own feed requirements to cut costs this year following last year’s tight season. This could see less hay traded throughout 2017 unless dry conditions prevail and dictate a return to purchasing.
  • Very little demand recorded for straw in the region with ample supplies of cheap fodder available.
  • We recommend getting a feed test, a mould and yeast test and use only a trusted supplier.
  • Comments suggest the majority of silage produced this season has been of average quality.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($160 to 220/t) Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($330 to 350/t) Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($150 to 170/t) Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($160 to 190/t) Prices remain steady this week.