All hay stored on United States farms May 1, 2018, totaled just 15.7 million tons, down -36 percent from a year ago. Lower production in 2017, coupled with a higher cattle inventory as of January 1, 2018, has reduced the available hay stocks. April snow in the Northern Plains, and dry pasture conditions stretching from the Southwest to the Southern Plains, have extended supplemental feeding, further reducing available hay stocks. In fact, the six largest hay producing states in the U.S. have seen their stocks fall by a total of -65%. Texas is now reporting hay stocks of just 1220 vs. 3280 at this time last year. Lets just say in many locations across the U.S. hay has become an extremely hot commodity. Many of the hay auction companies are reporting very strong prices. Even the low-quality hay used for grinding for beef and dairy cattle is fetching unusually high prices. I heard one report a couple of weeks back in April, that a sale in Iowa was seeing prices for large squares of utility grinding hay hit $165 per ton. A whopping five times the price from a year earlier, when similar bales were bringing around $30 per ton. A lot of folks I’m talking to think this might be a good time to sell hay. Simply thinking we aren’t going to have this many cattle on feed with this shortage of supply later on in 2018. They are also doubting the dairy players will be wanting to milk this many dairy cows with cheap milk prices moving into the winter.
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