Hay Report - 5 January 2018

National Summary

  • Hay trading across the country remains mostly steady, and in some areas slow. Growers and contractors in the east have finished cutting, curing, baling and packing away in sheds for the year, which marks the commencement of hay trading.
  • After some persistent late spring and early summer rainfall across Australia, there is still some green pastures in paddocks, which has encouraged silage production. Trading remains dormant as a consequence, but is expected to grow as rain eases and warmer temperatures dominate the forecast.
  • Quality of fodder is variable around the country, with some very high quality feed reported in Western Australia that was cut mid-late spring. Generally, quality appears to be much higher than last year, complemented by a drop in yields by 41% according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics Australian Crop Report. It is recommended that fodder is tested for mould and yeast after wet spring conditions and for moisture-content to be monitored before hay-stacking, after increased reporting of haystack fires.
  • Prices remain mostly steady this week and forecast to firm in the New Year as supplies become limited. There is growing interest from the dairy and livestock industry for high quality energy and protein hay and there is some vetch available out of Victoria. Long term supply of quality protein hay may not be assured this year. However there is an abundance of low quality carryover feed in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Northern Australia Summary

  • Summer has kicked off in north-eastern Australia with hot temperatures and reports of high humidity heading into the wet season.
  • There is a feed-gap in southern Queensland which could lead to price firms and shifting demand to the Victorian market for good quality protein and energy fodder.
  • Demand for product in northern Queensland is low, as persistent rainfall coupled with favourable growing temperatures has encouraged on farm grazing.
  • Securing long term, reliable supplies of quality hay may well be an issue for the north as the year progresses with demand expected to be greater than supply.
  • 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.

Southern Australia - Summary

  • Hay trading is largely dormant in the south, largely due to late spring weather conducive to growing green pastures.
  • There is some silage production and feeding in the southern region, particularly Bega and in West Gippsland.
  • There have been some reports of haystack fires due to high moisture content and is it recommended that bale moisture is tested prior to stacking.
  • Due to high levels of persistent rainfall in spring, we recommend obtaining a mould and yeast test, a feed test, and using a trusted a supplier.
  • The region is once again expected to produce more than enough hay this season and will remain a strong source of supply to other regions in need throughout the country; this is being complemented by a good silage year.

Western Australia - Summary

  • Very high quality tested cereals are reported in the Pingrup district and are now available for purchase.
  • Pasture prices remain highly variable depending on the species of grass. Unimproved meadow pasture should fetch lower prices compared to improved sown clover and medic varieties.
  • Cereal harvesting is finished and straw is beginning to be cut and baled.
  • There remains reasonable good supply of carryover stocks of low/medium grade hay in the system but care should be exercised when buying this.
  • Demand for carryover hay from the northern WA sheep industry is strong this week and should continue after a dry winter.
  • The domestic market is not expected to provide a lift in hay trading until late January.
  • The export industry continues to dominate the WA market and is a solid indicator on pricing.  Exporters continue to seek out quality hay and as a result, will set the price in the market for quality hay.

Regional Commentary

Atherton Tablelands

  • Vicious storms have been overwhelming the Atherton Tablelands of late, with reports of some damaged machinery. These storms appear to be quite patchy and not consistent, with some areas receiving 5-6mm and others 30-40mm particularly close to the mountains.
  • Temperatures are reportedly in the thirties with high humidity.
  • There is still a lot of grass about for grazing animals, and demand for local hay is still quiet, with the occasional small square heading to hobby farmers.
  • Traders will be looking to move old season stock to make room for new season hay in sheds.
  • Prices remain steady for this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($200 to $350/t). Prices remain steady this week
  • Note: Hay in the Atherton Tablelands is traditionally priced at $/bale, so it is important to check bale weights for conversion.

Darling Downs

  • High temperatures and threatening storms are dominating the forecast in Southern Queensland’s Darling Downs.
  • Summer feed isn’t quite ready yet and with winter supplies low, there are talks of a January feed-gap.
  • Demand for good quality protein and energy feed has increased and supply is beginning to come from the southern areas such as Victoria.
  • The dairy industry is driving sales compared to feedlots which have reduced stocking rates and less need for feed.
  • There is no price change reported this week. It is expected that prices will firm in the coming weeks.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($280 to $320/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($330 to $420/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($180 to $250/t). Prices remain steady this week.

North Coast NSW

  • Although there had been some relief in the last two weeks, storms and rainfall is dominating the weather on the north coast of New South Wales.
  • There are reports of concern on quality of hay produced this season, as persistent rainfall encouraged growth and compromised on hay-grading.
  • Trading is quiet due to high growth-levels of grass and there has been no price change this week.
  • There is a limited supply of cereal hay, lucerne and straw in the region.
  • No price changes are noted this week.
  • Very little vetch of good quality is available for $300-$350/t however there is reportedly little demand for this, except from the dairy industry.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($280 to $300/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($350 to $400/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($180 to $240/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($200 to $250/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Central West NSW

  • The Central West is still experiencing consistent rainfall since late Spring, which has impacted on haymaking activities. Some hay was made in late December, but there was only a very short window of opportunity due to wet conditions.
  • Lucerne quality might be second-grade this year as it has been left to grow during persistent rainfall, but yields should be adequate.
  • Demand is steady and considered normal for this time of year, with a slight decline due to the rain. Pricing has eased as a consequence.
  • There is enquiry from within the region for good quality protein and demand for local protein from Bega. South Australia and Victoria are no longer purchasing from this area.
  • Local demand from feedlots, dairy, equine and produce industries appears to be strong within the region, particularly for small squares. Large bales have dropped off in demand.
  • There is very little straw in the region. What is available is generally of poor quality with rain damage after the grain harvest.
  • Cereal hay: -$15 ($150 to $220/t). Prices have eased this week.
  • Lucerne hay: -$15 ($250 to $350/t). Prices have eased this week.
  • Straw: -$25 ($80 to $110/t). Prices have eased this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($150 to 200/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Bega Valley

  • As of December, Bega was making lots of silage with misty rainfall falling across the valley. This is promising for the region with not much hay made in spring.
  • Demand was low in December due to enough rainfall to keep paddocks green.
  • Pasture prices vary greatly due to different species found in paddocks. Sown clovers should sell for a higher price that meadow grasses.
  • There is no change in price reported this week.
  • 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 ($140 to $210/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Goulburn/Murray Valley

  • Fodder production is almost finished in the Goulburn and Murray Valley districts.
  • Temperatures have started to heat up for the summer in the Murray and Goulburn regions in the high thirties and forties.
  • Demand is pretty poor at this time of year and is expected to lift in late summer/ early autumn.
  • Otherwise, prices remain steady this week.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($80 to $140/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($230 to $300/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($90 to $100/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($150-180/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Gippsland

  • There is much variation in quality and quantity grown in Gippsland, with very dry conditions expected for most of the year in the East and wet conditions in the West.
  • Reports of caterpillars called army worms are decimating crops near the West Gippsland region, reportedly reducing yields by 50-60% in some areas. Spraying has begun.
  • Silage was fed out 4-6 weeks early this year, which may be troublesome in the short-term in order to secure enough fodder for livestock.
  • Vetch is coming from Avoca to supplement silage feed, which is delivered for $245-$260 per tonne.
  • A high demand in good quality cereal hay is to be expected in February 2018 once the silage is finished.
  • Due to the frequent rainfall in the west, we recommend obtaining a mould and yeast test, a feed test and using a trusted a supplier.
  • There have been no reported changes this week.
  • 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 $240/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Southwest Victoria

  • The hay season in Southwest Victoria almost complete with the exception of second and third cut Lucerne.
  • Demand for fodder is still quite slow at the moment.
  • There is little enquiry for wheaten hay, however there is limited supply in the region. There are some carryover cereals available.
  • Due to the frequent rainfall in spring, we recommend obtaining a mould and yeast test, a feed test and using a trusted a supplier.
  • There is very little interest in vetch at the moment which is selling for $245-$270 (+GST) delivered.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0($110 to $190/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($250 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

  • There is still a lot of low-grade carryover in Southeast Australia which has, and will continue to hamper local demand for feed.
  • Fodder activity has all but ceased for the season with pasture baled mid-week in the lead up to Christmas.
  • There is very little demand for fodder across Southeast South Australia at the moment however there are murmurs that the local prime lamb market will increase demand for new high quality feed in future. 
  • The land in Southeast South Australia is beginning to dry out now which should contribute to some increased demand this month.
  • New season vetch is available at $200/t on farm. Limited old-season vetch is available for $180-$190/t.
  • No changes in pricing reported this week.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($80 to $140/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($160 to $260/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($60 to $90/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($70 to 150/t). Prices remain steady this week.

Central South Australia

  • Typical weather for this time of year has been reported this week in Central South Australia, with some light rain and warmer weather on its way.
  • Most of the hay has been baled in Central South Australia.
  • There have been reports of movement of fodder, but it appears to be fulfilling regular domestic contracts with cattle and sheep stations from White Cliffs to Flinders Ranges, and not enough to increase prices. 
  • Otherwise domestic trading is still slow and is not expected to pick up until the end of summer when local and interstate demand increases.
  • Reportedly, trade of hay into QLD is steady.
  • Exporters and growers are looking to sell mid-low grade carryover stocks to make room for new season good quality hay.
  • Obtaining a feed test when buying hay is highly recommended.
  • No price changes noted this week.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($90 to 140/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 is no much else to report on in this region with hay business lying dormant.
  • Local demand is steady and there is some light trading going on. This is expected to pick up in January.
  • Growers in the region are reporting varying results of excellent yields and rain damaged crops.
  • Prices have not changed this week.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($100 to $250/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($450 to $490). Prices remain steady this week.
  • Straw: +/-$0 ($90 to 110/t) Prices remain steady this week.
  • Pasture hay: +/-$0 ($80 to $200/t). Prices remain steady this week.
  • It is worth noting that what is classified as pasture hay in WA can vary greatly from meadow hay to sewn medics, citronella and clovers. Medics and clovers expect to get higher prices than meadow grass.

Northwest Tasmania

  • Reportedly, the northwest, north east and south east regions of Tasmania are drying out.
  • There is some light demand and movement of oaten hay in preparations for the drier months ahead.
  • There is still a lot of carryover from last season.
  • There has been no change in price this week and trading is still fairly quiet.
  • Cereal hay: +/-$0 ($160 to 220/t) Prices remain steady this week.
  • Lucerne hay: +/-$0 ($220 to 300/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.