Hay Report - 6 October 2017

National Summary

  • The hay market was largely subdued again this week with virtually no change to prices reported. The focus for growers has turned to the timing of current silage and hay production and of course, at this time, eyes skyward to see how and when the weather may impact harvest.
  • The current season is certainly serving up plenty of variability and challenges around the country. In some regions, hay supply is almost nonexistent whilst in other regions, notably Southwest Victoria and South Australia, carryover stocks are still causing some concern.
  • The onset of spring is helping pasture growth in a number of regions and this may further dampen demand. In addition, new season hay production is beginning to be anticipated and how this may impact prices of last season’s carryover stocks as producers try to clear sheds. There is also a consideration that quality may be better from the new season production.
  • In Queensland and NSW, the situation remains precarious with poor rains and warming, dry weather. This will not only have an impact on this year’s hay crops in these regions but it will inevitably lead to fodder demand having to extend to regions that can meet this demand and that adds cost, especially for freight.

Northern Australia – Summary

  • Prices remain steady.
  • As the weather warms and reasonable spring rains remain elusive, enquiries for hay are lifting and this suggests that prices in some regions at least will remain solid for the foreseeable future. This is being further impacted by a more subdued outlook for the current seasons hay production in these regions.
  • The enquiry and buying that had eased from southern regions is gaining in momentum as farmers begin to anticipate potentially subdued rainfall going forward and a hot, dry summer ahead.
  • It is still expected that demand with exceed supply in the north this season.
  • 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 still out there on the market.

Southern Australia - Summary

  • Great variability exists between crops in the south but generally speaking the region will produce more than enough hay this season.
  • It’s too early to predict whether this season will see a lift in quality and an improved price and carryover stocks are still a disruptive influence.
  • It’s apparent that a great deal of hay will overflow from last season as there continues to be little demand for poorer quality feed although with the continued dry in the northern regions, there is a growing interest in this feed if only as a fibre source.
  • Whereas dairy farmers are more selective in their hay buying searching out quality to maximise milk production, beef and sheep producers are showing a greater interest in last season’s carryover hay as a feed source, especially when pasture growth is limited.
  • A wet August and start to September has assisted many late crops in southern Victoria and South Australia but will harvest looming, drier weather is being sought.
  • Tasmania and southern NSW have been hit with bad frosts and little rainfall which has crops under pressure.

Western Australia - Summary

  • There were no major changes to hay prices this week.
  • Hay trading continued at a steady pace but limited demand exists for much of the dairy regions. Demand has improved from beef and sheep producers looking to cover their feed needs for the summer ahead.
  • Some crops have started to be cut for hay and recent rain, whilst welcome by many, has interrupted this early hay production and may impact on quality.
  • The level of demand and optimism for the coming season varies a great deal from farmer to farmer.
  • 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 follow-up 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. Exporters continue to seek out quality but are expected to have sufficient supply this year to meet their needs.

Regional Commentary

Atherton Tablelands

  • There were no changes to hay prices in the region this week and the level of enquiry is sporadic depending on rain although there is fodder moving around the region and being sent to other areas such as Charters Towers.
  • The region around Mareeba is growing more hay and will potentially become a source of supply to the Tablelands depending on their production season.
  • The accessibility to new season feed is easing demand somewhat although supplies of smaller squares are becoming increasingly difficult to find.
  • It is predicted that despite the increase in supply, hay stocks may not go the distance this season and we’ll see a return to high demand; that said there are still supplies in sheds within the region.
  • The outcome of this year’s harvest is still yet to be fully realised however growers are anticipating a poorer year.
  • Most farmers continue have lower cattle number and for this reason have lower feed requirements. Many continue to feed in a hand to mouth fashion holding back frequent fluctuations in the market.
  • Access to water is an ongoing issue and has for some time limited the amount of cattle in the region.
  • We continue to advocate for feed testing to ensure quality and using a trusted supplier when purchasing hay this year.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($280 to $330/t). Prices 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

  • Plenty of enquiries for hay being reported in the region at the moment as supplies dwindle with hay and lucerne supplies largely non-existent.
  • It was reported that the next 12 months on the Downs will be very solid for hay prices.
  • It remains quite dry in the region despite 20mm last week but without more rain and not much water available, there is a strong expectation that local hay supply will have to be supplemented from outside the region this year.
  • The dry conditions have seen some cereal crops usually destined to be cut for hay now having cattle being run on them.
  • Protein hay is in particularly high demand and is fetching a premium.
  • 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.
  • There is a view that straw will be very difficult to source this year and this may create an opportunity to clear some of the carry over poor quality hay from the south to be used a straw, especially in the feedlot sector.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($270 to $350/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay +/-$0 ($400 to $450/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($180 to $220/t). Prices eased this week.
  • Pasture hay: Not in demand in this region.

North Coast NSW

  • Strong demand continues in the region despite 25-40mm of rain recently which has taken the pressure off; prices however remained unchanged this week.
  • Without follow-up rain, demand is expected to remain buoyant.
  • The region experienced poor winter for rainfall and a lack of subsoil moisture has seen crops and pasture struggle; if further rain eventuates in coming weeks the production season is expected to be quite good.
  • There are no stocks or surplus hay remaining in the region.
  • Large volumes of feed continue to be purchased from down south, especially wheaten hay from South Australia and freighted up.
  • The region is in need of good rainfall, not just for crops but also for dwindling water tanks.
  • Virtually no straw available within the region.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($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

  • There were no changes to hay prices this week.
  • Reasonable demand exists within the region for fair quality oaten hay which is being sought by sheep and cattle producers as well as backgrounders.
  • Uncharacteristically, the region has limited quality hay available and many growers haven’t had the rain again to ensure even a reasonable season.
  • A number of severe frosts combined with a lack of rainfall have meant a poor cropping season for the region; reports suggest that not a lot of cereal crops will go to hay this year because of the lack of height due to the impact of frosts.
  • It is expected that farmers in the region will have to look south for supply later in the season as supply will be limited within the region.
  • Hay traders continue to report having great difficulty finding good protein hay.
  • No lucerne hay in sheds yet although baling may commence shortly depending on the weather.
  • There is plenty of straw available but the quality of this is unknown.
  • 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

  • There were no changes to hay prices reported in the Bega region this week although current stated prices are indicative only as supply is very tight within the Bega region and in surrounding areas.
  • There continues to be a great deal of concern over the lack of rainfall which has occurred in the region in recent months and its impact on pasture and this season’s crops; it is very dry in the Bega region at the moment, looking more like mid-January than spring.
  • Comments suggest growers are expecting a poor season and for supply to be tight this year.
  • Good quality cereal and protein hay is most in demand especially by the dairy sector who want to guarantee their milk production.
  • Good volumes of feed are coming from southern regions and this is expected to continue and from further afield depending on availability and price as there are no supplies close to the region.
  • There is uncertainty of the new season fodder’s price due to lack of supply but in terms of quality it’s too early to tell.
  • The large volumes of weather damaged feed available in and around the region are reportedly dwindling as beef producers have been buying this.
  • 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

  • There is a pause in trading in the region at the moment as the wait is on for new season hay to become more readily available.
  • Reports indicate high demand and volumes of last season’s poorer quality feed is now heading into NSW and QLD from the region at about $100/t plus freight and this is certainly helping to clear out old stocks of hay.
  • It is still too early to predict the quality and quantity of the new season hay production but locally there are buyers waiting for this; new season hay is expected to start at around $125-$130/t.
  • Exporters are expected to be active in the market for new season hay if the quality is assured.
  • Late rain through August and the start of September have resulted in a major turnaround in the expectation for this season. There are parts of the region that are particularly dry however.
  • Cereal is where most of the demand sits at the moment as farmers continue to look for fibre.
  • Some silage is being cut and a short silage season is being predicted.
  • There is a shortage of lucerne and it is expected that prices will firm for this over coming weeks and months.
  • Water prices in the region continue to increase as dry weather persists and water is now trading at $120-$150ML.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($80 to $120/t). Prices remain steady 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

  • Limited trading of hay was reported this week with demand quite low in the region
  • Despite hay being trucked into the east over previous weeks this is still quite sporadic.
  • Farmers in the east, including the Macalister Irrigation District and as far south as Yarram, are reporting a continuation of dry conditions and will require more feed.
  • Contrasting this is South Gippsland which is still too wet.
  • Silage is now being made when weather conditions are appropriate but the production forecast is mixed across the region.
  • Farmers are considering their feed requirements for the coming season including the possibility of a long dry summer; this may create an impetus to buy over coming weeks.
  • There has been some increase in uptake for mid-range feed, to use as a backup in recent weeks. It appears farmers are being cautious not to be caught out by sustained dry conditions.
  • The most in demand fodder type in Gippsland is premium quality cereal hay with many dairy farmers rejecting the cheaper feed and focusing on animal health and milk production.
  • 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 ($140 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 ($120 to $190/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Southwest Victoria

  • There was limited hay trading reported this week as good supplies remain throughout and no changes in pricing.
  • Pasture growth is increasing especially with the onset of warmer weather, further reducing trade within the region.
  • It’s predicted that the region will enjoy another strong year for production.
  • The only wish for growers is a return to quality and to drive up the premium for fodder.
  • Large volumes of poorer grade feed still exist right throughout the region.
  • Protein hay is still difficult to come by.
  • Silage production has now started in the region.
  • Buyers continue to resist poorer 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.
  • Some vetch silage is trading around $250/t (on a dry matter basis).
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($110 to $190/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($260 to $290/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($110 to $130/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($110 to $160/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Southeast South Australia

  • Limited hay trading occurred once again this week with little interest coming from within the region with ample supply still available locally.
  • The Southeast of South Australia is still very wet.
  • Most hay domestically is heading outside the southeast, but this market too has eased somewhat following good rain in Victoria.
  • Demand from northern regions is also expected to ease with new season cereal being cut but weather, specifically reduced rain events, could turn this around.
  • NSW may rely on South Australia for supply more this season if tough seasonal conditions continue there.
  • Growers are hoping for a boost in the quality of feed made this year and will likely produce good volumes although reports suggest less hay will be made this year in the region due to the oversupply which remains.
  • Reports suggest some cereal crops will go to grain this year and will not be cut for hay.
  • The southeast region continues to be one of the most reliable in terms of cereal hay quality in the country.
  • Silage production is expected to be very good this year.
  • To ensure quality however we continue to advocate for the careful inspection of fodder before purchase and obtaining a feed test.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($90 to $140/t). Prices remain 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

  • Trading was slow again this week despite growers looking to offload as much of last season’s hay as possible in readiness for the new harvest.
  • Demand from the north has eased with new season cereal being cut up there.
  • Parts of the region have been missed by rainfall during the winter period will produce far less hay this coming season but generally speaking the region has made a good comeback from a late winter.
  • The current outlook for this year’s crops has improved a great deal in recent weeks; despite the hay crops being quite low but there is an expectation that quality will be good.
  • Farmers continue to have good supplies in sheds.
  • The region is looking for rain again to salvage grain crops and if this eventuates, it will damage some hay.
  • New season hay that is of quality is being purchased by the export sector at prices above those stated although last season hay continues to trade around the prices indicated.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($80 to 130/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 in the west this week as trading was limited with only average levels of enquiry being fielded mostly from sheep and cattle producers looking to summer proof their feed supplies.
  • Cutting of crops for hay has commenced in many areas in the west after a wet July through to early August and then a dry spell which saw crops turn.
  • Cutting in this last week was interrupted with up to 40mm of rain.
  • Whilst this rain has saved the season for many farmers it will have an adverse impact of the hay already cut.
  • Later crops are expected to be of a better quality this year and yields are expected to be improved thanks to rain.
  • Exporters are reported to have plenty of supply for their export requirements and will continue to focus on quality.
  • Domestically there is an expectation of higher demand after a dry winter.
  • There are medium levels of carryover stocks of low/medium grade and early production hay from this season is expected to be of a low quality possibly making shed space difficult to find for the later crops.
  • Pasture growth is returning which is taking the impetus out of hay trading.
  • We continue to advocate for obtaining a feed test as well as a mould and yeast test when purchasing fodder this year as there is expected to be a surplus of rain damaged hay.
  • 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 ($90 to 110/t) Prices eased this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($150 to $200/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Northwest Tasmania

  • Limited trading was reported this week in the region with no price changes although this could be the “calm before the storm” if the rain forecast in the next week eventuates and it gets wet, particularly in the south; this could cause a spike in trading.
  • There is nervousness in the south and through the middle of the state where the dry conditions have prevailed and rainfall has been well below average, contrasting with the norths above average.
  • Reports indicate good supplies will be available from this production season, especially from the north of the state suggesting a good year for hay trading from the north to the south, if it does not get too wet.
  • A potential overflow into next season may exist although there is a great deal of poorer quality feed making up this supply.
  • A premium will exist next year for adequately stored fodder, reports suggest.
  • With the dairy industry slowly getting back on its feet, dairy farmers are starting to look carefully at their feed requirements, which will be intensified if it does get wet.
  • 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.