Hay Report - 8 September 2017

National Summary

  • Hay trading continues to be subdued across much of the country as farmers wait and assess the full potential of the coming season.
  • While there are already signs suggesting the north will produce less hay this year, the lack of rainfall is yet to prompt many buyers to rush in and secure large volumes of fodder. Some farmers are hoping for a strong spring break to alleviate pressure while others are put off by premium prices and will sit out until absolutely necessary.
  • There has been a notable increase in the amount of poorer quality feed traded in recent weeks as growers, particularly in the south, look to make room in sheds for new season feed. In stark contrast to those in the north, southern growers are staring down the barrel of another year of oversupply with most farmers still reporting good levels of supply.
  • One of the greatest questions yet to be answered is what the level of quality will be and will it be improved from last year. More wet weather in Victoria and South Australia has left a lot of water on the ground but the outlook is uncertain. The amount of top quality feed on the market continues to shrink and growers are hoping for an uninterrupted harvest to allow for better quality to become the norm again and subsequently a return to higher prices.
  • With the variability in feed available at the moment, we continue to advocate for the careful inspection of fodder before purchase. Sight and smell isn’t enough however and we also encourage buyers and growers to have fodder tested.

Northern Australia – Summary

  • Lack of significant rainfall continues to put pressure on farmers in the region with limited pasture and access to hay throughout Queensland.
  • Supply is becoming thin throughout much of NSW.
  • Without a strong late break, hay traders are expecting this season’s crops will struggle to keep up with demand over a prolonged dry summer.
  • It appears the south will have the ability to bolster northern hay supplies with another good season predicted. If quality and then price is up however, freighting hay up north could be expensive.
  • Freight prices are the main obstacle to further trade of southern product.
  • Some price increases were noted for cereal this week as feed comes from further south.
  • Lucerne and straw are particularly scarce. Most quality protein hay can fetch over $400/t if it can be found.
  • We suggest caution when purchasing fodder at the moment, particularly protein hay, as there continues to be a great deal of variability in what’s being traded. Good quality still exists but there is also a lot of poor quality feed out there on the market.
  • Some new season cereal is ready to be cut, well ahead of schedule because of the hot and dry conditions.

Southern Australia - Summary

  • Most farmers continue to have good supplies in sheds and report little interest in the hay market.
  • Growers are keen to make space in sheds for the coming season’s feed and so more poor quality feed was reported to be available again this week. There continues to be no real market for much of this feed.
  • Growers are hoping for a stronger year in terms of quality which will result in a more profitable product.
  • Southern regions are mostly quite wet at the moment, particularly Southwest Victoria and Tasmania.
  • There continues to be steady trade to northern regions where access to fodder is far lessfavourable.
  • Gippsland is a mixed bag of seasonal conditions at present and with varying rain results, some areas are faring better than others and hay demand consequently, is also varied across the region.

Western Australia - Summary

  • There were no changes to hay prices in the west this week as trading continues to be mostly subdued.
  • There is a varied level of demand amongst regions with some farmers reporting good supplies in sheds and others next to none because of the dry conditions.
  • Rainfall has been the key factor in the success of farmers and hay growers in the past few months and will continue to influence the outlook for the season ahead; there is a need for rain in coming weeks to secure reasonable production outcomes.
  • The export industry continues to dominate the WA market and is a solid indicator on pricing.

Regional Commentary

Atherton Tablelands

  • Steady trading was reported this week and a slight increase is prices due to reports of low supply throughout the state.
  • Supply has the potential to become a greater issue and may result in further price increases later in the year. This may occur if this year’s harvest is as poor as some suggest.
  • Most farmers continue to feed in a hand to mouth fashion holding back frequent fluctuations in the market.
  • There continues to be little market for large squares at the moment but there are reports of 4x3 round bales and small squares trading.
  • Access to water is an ongoing issue and has for some time limited the amount of cattle in the region.
  • With good quality hay becoming more and more difficult to source, we recommend getting a feed test and using a trusted supplier when purchasing hay this year.
  • Pasture hay: +$35 ($280 to $330/t). Prices firmed 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

  • More farmers are beginning to acknowledge the strong chance of a poor season this year due to a prolonged dry spell.
  • As farmers become increasingly restless and consider feed requirements for the summer period, interest is growing in the hay market.
  • This is yet to result in a boost in buying or further increases in price. Both are likely however through summer.
  • Hay supply of all types is low throughout the region with almost all feed coming from the south, as far as Victoria, with the suggestion that current cereal prices in the region are the same as in South Australia and Victoria plus freight.
  • Any premium quality feed purchased on the Downs will have certainly been from the south as there is virtually no local supply of quality.
  • The dry conditions have seen some cereal crops usually destined to be cut for hay now having cattle being run on them.
  • Very little straw is available in the region.
  • As we run down supply, quality for all fodder types is highly variable and should be tested. We also advocate for careful inspection of fodder and using a trusted supplier when possible.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($300 to $350/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay +/-$0 ($400 to $450/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($200 to $240/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($250 to $300/t) Prices remain steady this week.

North Coast NSW

  • With the growing demand for feed in the region we saw an increase in price for cereal this week.
  • Also contributing to price increases is the cost of freighting fodder from regions in the far-south.
  • Next to no decent quality hay exists for purchase locally.
  • Reports indicate a number of farmers have been spurred into action by rising hay prices and the possible long summer following a failed cropping season.
  • There is still the chance for the region to have a wet spring and ease pressure. But the issue of supply will probably hang around for some time.
  • Very little straw available within the region.
  • Cereal hay: +$10 ($300 to $350/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($380 to $450/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($200 to $240/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($250 to $280/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Central West NSW

  • Steady demand was reported again this week with cereal still the most sought after fodder type during cooler conditions.
  • Good quality feed is becoming increasingly difficult to acquire and quality protein hay particularly is now attracting a premium.
  • Hay traders continue to report having great difficulty finding good protein hay.
  • Generally speaking, the majority of hay moving is poorer quality (medium grade) feed selling at the bottom of the pricing scale and therefore, cereal hay prices have softened marginally this week.
  • The outlook for crops in the region is on the improve, but less hay if expected this year than usual.
  • Most farmers continue to report good supplies in sheds, though it’s of lower quality.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($140 to $180/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($250 to $330/t) Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($110 to $130/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($150 to 170/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Bega Valley

  • Interest in purchased feed continues to be on the up in the Bega region.
  • Still without significant rain in some time, some farmers are concerned about the level of supply heading into summer.
  • Crops too, are struggling with the lack of rain.
  • Hay prices remained steady this week with demand continuing for good quality feed with a focus on long term returns for milk production.
  • The is limited good quality feed left in the region so most hay is now coming from further south.
  • Hay traders suggest that both prices and demand for purchased feed is dependent on the success of this season’s harvest.
  • Because of the large amounts of weather damaged feed on the market we recommend obtaining a feed test and only using a trusted supplier when buying fodder in the region this year.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($190 to $230/t). Prices remain steady 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

  • While a great deal of the hay trading at the moment is of poorer quality with growers clearing sheds, some better quality feed has also reentered the market this week. This has seen a slight increase for cereal prices.
  • Cereal is where most of the demand sits at the moment as farmers continue to look for fibre.
  • Hay traders are nervous at the moment with the slowing demand for fodder and the warmer weather assisting with pasture growth.
  • Large volumes of the poorest quality dry cow hay are available for around $65/t.
  • With dairy farmers still doing it tough in the region, comments suggest they will look to cover their own feed requirements as much as possible this season.
  • Winter crops are looking good following much needed August rainfall and good grass feed is also being reported especially with the onset of warmer weather.
  • Mice continue to be an issue in the region and as such we recommend using a trusted supplier and carefully inspecting product when purchasing feed.
  • Cereal hay: +$10 ($90 to $120/t). Prices firmed this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($230 to $260/t). Prices remain steady this week but limited stocks available.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($90 to $100/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: No supply reportedly available.

Gippsland

  • Most hay buying continues to be from farmers in the East including the Macalister Irrigation District which have been the driest part of the region for some months.
  • In recent weeks however much of the region have experienced some rainfall and an increasingly positive outlook is being reported.
  • Cash flow continues to be tight for dairy farmers however and like last year, many farmers will look to cover feed requirements on farm as a result.
  • In southern Gippsland, decent pasture exists for farmers but cool temperatures keep the demand for purchased feed going.
  • It also appears that farmers are wary of being caught without feed over summer and are stockpiling reasonably priced feed.
  • The most in demand fodder type in Gippsland is premium quality cereal hay with many farmers rejecting the cheaper feed and focusing on animal health and output.
  • Reports suggest a lower silage production season in the region which will help underpin the ongoing need to secure alternative feed sources.
  • It is likely that we’ll see more poor-quality feed enter the market in the coming months as growers continue to make space in sheds.
  • 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: +/-$0 ($160 to $210/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($290 to $320/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

  • There was no lift in trading in the Southwest Vic region this week with growers and hay traders still struggling to get fodder moving.
  • The low demand is due mostly to the positive outlook for supply going forward. With another strong season being predicted, it’s possible we could see an oversupply in the area for the second year in a row.
  • Most farmers in the region continue to have good supplies of feed in sheds.
  • Some farmers have begun talking about making silage but with recent good rains, this has most likely been delayed until early October now.
  • A great deal of poorer quality feed remains available but there is still no significant market for on a large scale although there are reports of some beef farmers taking the lower quality feed.
  • Most farmers, especially dairy farmers, continue to search for quality and most quality hay is trading at the higher end of the pricing scale.
  • The mice issue seems to have eased in recent weeks although the damage to some stacks and hay supplies is still an issue.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($150 to $190/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($260 to $290/t). Prices remain steady 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

  • This week hay prices were steady with a lull in trading being reported.
  • Most hay domestically is heading outside the southeast, but this market too has eased somewhat following good rain to much of Victoria.
  • Demand remains high from northern regions, but freight costs are still causing some reluctance for some to buy.
  • Growers are hoping for a boost in the quality of feed made this year and will likely produce good volumes.
  • The southeast region continues to be one of the most reliable in terms of cereal hay quality in the country.
  • In recent weeks, protein hay has become considerably more difficult to acquire.
  • Large volumes of poor quality feed remain available at lower than the suggested pricing. There continues to be little market for this however and the concern now is the impact of the carryover of this into the next season’s production.
  • To ensure quality however we continue to advocate for the careful inspection of fodder before purchase and obtaining a feed test.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($120 to $160/t). Prices remained steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($240 to $300/t). Prices remain steady 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

  • Hay prices remain steady again this week with limited trading occurring within the region.
  • Good trade to northern regions continues and most growers report strong supplies in sheds to be sold. This trade is predicted to weaken in the coming weeks however.
  • As the new season draws closer, hay traders predict we could see prices ease to get fodder moving.
  • Parts of the region have been missed by rainfall during the winter period and will produce far less hay this coming season.
  • The current outlook for this year’s crops has improved a great deal in recent weeks.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($100 to 150/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($250 to 300/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($80 to $110/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Southwest Western Australia

  • There were no major changes to hay prices this week with a subdued market being reported by hay traders.
  • There is a great deal of variability between growers in the region. Some are expecting a fair season while others in close proximity have had little rainfall and are doing it tough.
  • Whilst the season is not too bad at present, further rain will be required in coming weeks to secure a productive harvest.
  • Exporters are expecting to reach more than enough supply for another buoyant year of fodder exports, but domestically it could be a little leaner. This will dependant of rainfall and the length of the dry summer period.
  • Crops are late throughout the region.
  • Pasture growth is returning which is taking the impetus out of hay trading.
  • Comments suggest that the north of the region has had the poorest winter for rain and is unlikely to produce much hay this season.
  • Trade in small bales in the sheep/equine industry continues but supplies of these are diminishing.
  • We continue to advocate for obtaining a feed test as well as a mould and yeast test when purchasing fodder this year. This comes as there is a great deal of variability in the feed available this year.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($140 to $180/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($450 to $490). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($100 to $130/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($150 to $200/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Northwest Tasmania

  • The first week of spring did little to warm the region with good demand for cereal being driven by cool temperatures and rain.
  • Prices were steady with the market seemingly at a comfortable point.
  • South of the state remains dry but is expected to be a good season for hay production under pivots. The north has had good rains.
  • Still the majority of demand continues to be for fibre but also protein is in demand to replace homegrown silage.
  • Hay traders reports that there is a great deal of weather damaged fodder on the market for far less than the suggested price scale. We suggest obtaining a feed test and mould and yeast test to ensure value for money.
  • With the dairy industry still getting back on its feet, dairy farmers will again look to cover the majority of their feed requirements on farm this year to cut costs. This may see less hay traded this year.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($160 to 220/t) Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($250 to 320/t) Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($100 to 140/t) Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($140 to 190/t) Prices remain steady this week.