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Pasture, Hay Stocks Supporting US Herd Rebuild

23 July 2015

US - Adequate precipitation is allowing for pasture recovery across much of the central and eastern US, adding to an improved forage picture.

Hay should encourage cattle expansion across a broad area and present pasture conditions, rated at 65 per cent ‘good or excellent’ nationally, are limiting light placements at the feedlots.

Economist Professor Matthew A. Diersen has encouraged ranchers to expand and use a larger forage supply.

He predicts hay prices, on the back of ending stocks of 18 million tons, to sit around $160 per ton, although caveats that there are fewer harvest acres than last year.

The North Dakota State University expert said: “The bottom line is that hay use can increase this year and take stocks down slightly, but with a lower price level than a year ago.” Last year the all US hay price was $180 per ton.

Meanwhile, nationally, ten per cent more pasture is in the “good to excellent” category this year than last. North Dakota and Oklahoma boast “good to excellent” pasture conditions across 79 per cent and 68 per cent of grazing land.

Such improvements are causing ranches to retain replacements heifers and market cattle after longer time at pasture, according to North Dakota State University livestock economist, Tim Petry.

He said Canadian and Mexican live imports are keeping feedlot inventories maintained.

Further west, California remains trapped in a four year drought cycle, which is spreading east.

Latest updates from the US drought monitor show growing areas of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico and Arizona are becoming increasingly affected.

Some “anomalous” rains were recorded in California last week leading to minor improvements in the drought situation, barring those areas in “exceptional” drought – 35 per cent of pastures are in “good or excellent” condition.

Over in the Mid West, untimely rains have disrupted hay making, prompting extension agents to advise on hay moisture levels.

Daniel Lima from Ohio State University has advised upper limits of 20, 18 and 16 per cent moisture for small square, large round and large square bales.

He said June proved a “double edged-sword” by forcing farmers to delay bailing or bail with moisture too high. He recommends forage testing ahead of winter feed budgeting.

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms


Top image via Shutterstock

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