Area cattlemen and hay producers know that this past year was a great year for making hay. By most accounts told to me, folks easily doubled the amount of hay baled from recent years.
This all sounds great until you start figuring where it all can go. Cattle numbers are low as we just haven’t built back up to numbers prior to our last drought. Add to that an over-abundance of hay and you have a miss-match of the supply and demand. You have the potential for really low hay prices.
Now, really low hay prices are both a blessing and a curse. Hay sellers suffer, hay buyers benefit.
And hay, inherent to its very nature is a perishable commodity.
So what are some options to salvage a good hay crop when prices are low? Hay can be stored and kept in very good quality if stored away from the elements.
Consider the price of a really inexpensive pole barn and the cost invested into a round bale of hay. For grins, let us suppose you hired a friend that baled your hay for only $25 per bale and will assume that you have 100 bales. That’s $2,500 invested or perhaps lost. For a little more, a simple pole barn would serve to keep that hay and the value of hay crops for years to come.
Even if you never bale too much again, we well know how the outer foot of a round bale can ruin over the course of less than one year. Remember that the outer one foot of a 4×5 round bale is one third the total volume. To lose that outer ring of hay is the same as losing one crop of hay every three years!
If you are not convinced of hay storage and its ability to keep its quality, let me share a story. For years in northeast Texas there has been an annual hay show in the fall. The only real rule was that the hay must be baled from your own operation.
To many fellas’ chagrin, a lady took top honors one year and continued to place in the top rankings for the years to follow. However after her 3rd or 4th year of placing in the top five, the men started getting suspicious about her hay entries being legitimate. When confronted, she adamantly claimed that was her hay, baled on her place.
Well a neighbor or two watched her field closely for the next year. Never did she bale it and yet, she entered another top placing bale that next year!
Yes, she was accused. Again. But this time with witnesses.
And yes, she defended her position that she indeed produced it off her place, however, she admitted, it was from a very good cutting of hay stored in her barn from about five years before!
Indeed, hay can be stored for well over a year or two. Skeptics will accurately claim that it will diminish in quality. True, but not nearly as much as one might think. Anecdotally I’ve heard numerous stories of folks cleaning out the last remnant of a hay barn from years gone by and the livestock benefiting just fine.
Providing cover for hay not only rescues an expense, but also allows for an improvement that can save hay
And that hay competition made a new rule saying that “hay must be baled off of your place… in the last 12 months.”