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Make the most of your hay situation
Hay has been a hot topic this summer and fall around the nation's midsection. The weather has made it tough for a lot of farmers to raise a good crop, and in some areas where the hay crop's been large enough, there have been quality issues that will likely affect both the amount of feed available for livestock producers, as well as the price they'll pay for those feedstocks. Get the latest information on the hay business and marketplace right here.
Hay prices stack up
U.S. acreage shifts sparked by historically high grain prices, the southern Plains' severe drought, and a weaker growing season has some Midwest hay prices running as high as double than a year ago. And, one specialist says now forage used for feeding beef and dairy cattle and horses is getting harder to find and more expensive.
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How to ID a blue ribbon bale of hay
With hay prices rising across the country, the ability to judge hay quality is an increasingly critical skill -- both for buyers and producers. A starting point in judging hay is to focus on the needs of the end-user--the animals, one expert says. Keys include the functionality of the package (shape, density, structure, spacing & position of ties), maturity stage, presence of foreign material, odor, texture, condition, and color.