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Tips on marketing hay

Not all bales are worth the same
Making hay on an Iowa acreage

If you want to sell hay from your farm or acreage, Tracey Renelt, Extension dairy field specialist at South Dakota State University, says to consider these three things.

1. Have it tested for quality. Sampling should be done close to the time of sale, says Renelt. For large round bales, hay probes should be placed on the curved side at a 90 degree angle, coring towards the center. When coring square bales it should be placed on the butt end of the bales. Avoide getting net wrap or twine in the sample. Core several random bales (20 minimum) in a lot of hay and combine the sample and place the cores into gallon size plastic bag or other container and seal. A total of one-half pound of dry hay from the 20 cores is adequate. Label sample bag with contact information, including phone number and type of sample you are sending (alfalfa, grass hay, mixed hay, etc) and the type of analysis desired. To find a lab, contact your local Extension Center or look at the National Forage Testing Association website http://www.foragetesting.org/ which provides a list of certified laboratories that perform hay analysis tests.
An NIRS (Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy) analysis will provide RFV (relative feed value), RFQ (relative feed quality), percent dry matter, crude protein, ADF (acid detergent fiber), NDF (neutral detergent fiber) digestible NDF, lignin, crude fat, ash, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Potassium, Total Digestible Nutrients, Net Energy for gain, lactation & maintenance, NDF digestibility, and NFC (non-fiber carbohydrate).

 

2. Look it over good. Consider the hay's appearance to determine if there are noxious weed seeds, mold, or foreign material present. "All of which can change the price received and will not show up on an NIRS analysis," says Renelt. "Additionally, if state or locally noxious weed seeds are present it will prevent you from transporting or selling the product according to state law."
           
3. Set a fair price. When determining a fair price, Renelt says to consider the method used. "Was the hay put up as a large round bale or small or large square bale or as balage? Was it net wrapped, twine wrapped, or plastic wrapped? Is it plastic twine or sisal twine? Has it sat out and been rained on since harvest or has it been stored in the shed? All these things should be considered when pricing your commodity," she says.

The USDA provides a weekly market update on hay markets; http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ . Click on the Market News link and then click on Livestock, Meats, Grain and Hay, then click on Hay, under Browse by Commodity.
 
 

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