Western States Show Hay Supply Drop

Western states show a significant drop in hay stocks as of May 1, yet all hay acreage in these states is down as well, pointing the way to tighter feed inventories.

As of May 1, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that hay stocks in all but seven states west of the Mississippi River were down from a year earlier.  All but nine states east of the river showed year-over-year increases, and three of the nine were unchanged.

A Livestock Marketing Information Center map shows significant declines in hay stocks in Florida, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Sharp increases were seen in Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.

More moderate increases were noted in Arkansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, South Carolina, Ohio, Vermont and Massachusetts.




In spite of declining stocks in western states, many of them show a distinctive decline in hay acres, especially the Intermountain and Southwestern states.  Southeastern and eastern Midwest states also were down.

Significant declines were noted in California, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  Less significant declines were reported in Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and Ohio.

Acreage increases were seen in Washington, Idaho, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey.




Alfalfa hay acres appeared to trend higher across the US, although no data was available from six Southwestern states.

The largest increase in alfalfa acreage was reported in New York with a 25% increase from last year.  Otherwise, states with increases were unchanged to up 14%, which occurred in Oregon.

There seemed to be no real pattern to increases or decreases in alfalfa hay acres from a year earlier, although the largest declines often appeared in states with a great potential to grow other crops.  States like Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin showed sharp acreage declines, as did Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, Pennsylvania and a few New England states.

The decision to plant alfalfa is not taken lightly by farmers.  The crop is a perennial that must be left intact for several years to get the full potential from the planting.

That ties up the field for years, and many are not willing to do this if the field in question has the potential to grow higher-income crops like corn or soybeans.  Alfalfa is an excellent nitrogen fixer, though, and can be used to break up a crop rotation cycle.

Also, after recovering from a major drought, the last few years may have given farmers a comfortable stockpile of alfalfa.




Cattle traded on the livestock exchange Wednesday at an average of $132.54 per cwt on a live basis, down $2.27 from $134.81 a week earlier, cash cattle then began to trade at $132 to $132.50 live, down $1 to $1.50.  Dressed-basis trade was reported at $208 to $209, down $4 to $5 $212 to $215.

The USDA’s choice cutout Thursday was up $0.03 per cwt at $246.11, while select was off $0.62 at $218.98.  The choice/select spread widened to $27.13 from $26.48 with 93 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $143.09 per cwt, down $0.31.  This compares with Thursday’s May settlement at $143.52, down $0.47.