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Saskatchewan Hay Texas Bound!

Here is an interesting turn of events I understand a lot of southern Saskatchewan (perhaps southern Prairie) hay is heading as far south as Texas this fall.

Much of southern Saskatchewan, most years or historically, is borderline semi-desert rainfall is usually minimal. But the last few years, and particularly this year with ample-to-excessive rain, hay crops are phenomenal. On the flip side, much of the southern U.S. experienced a serious drought. So the demand is there, and apparently hay and greenfeed of just about every type and quality is being trucked to the southern states selling for $200 to $250 per ton delivered.

Dallas Leduc, who is part of a mostly grain family farm near Glentworth, Sask., says hay sales were a real bonus for him this year. Leduc had seeded about 300 acres to straight alfalfa, mostly with the intent of having the forage legume in rotation for a few years to improve soil fertility for future grain crops.

As far as the hay sales are concerned, I was just the middleman, says Leduc. I was approached by a guy who wanted to buy all the hay I had, in the swath in the field. He paid me $30 per ton for hay in the swath, he did all the baling, loaded it up and hauled it to Texas. My understanding is hay of all type was being delivered in Texas for $220 per ton.

Leduc says with a hay crop that produced 1,000 tons off 300 acres, the hay deal was a real bonus. We re usually dry here, so most years there is little or no surplus hay, he says. But the last couple of years hay and grain yields have been exceptional. We are producing some excellent crops. The one problem we have is with late seeding, but if you can get it seeded, the moisture has been there.

On the CattleToday.com website, I also found this comment from Saskatchewan rancher, Randi, who reports: Wow, we have one of the best hay crops up here that we have ever had. Five bales to the acre on land that you re usually lucky to get 1-1/2 -two bales to the acre on. That s big round bales by the way, 5-1/2 x 6-foot bales, 1,200-1,400 lbs. each. So since we have three times as much feed as we will possibly need this fall, and its like that everywhere up here I decided to advertise south of the border, we re only an hour north of two border crossings. So I advertised in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Well, I d heard it was dry further south, but I never expected the calls from Texas and Oklahoma. I ve got a waiting list now, and all I can say is WOW. By the time it gets down there it is going to be worth between $200 and $300 per ton. I think that if it was in the reverse, and I was looking at that kinda money, the cows would have to go. But then again we have to feed for about six to seven months of the year. When you have to feed a cow about 2-1/2 tons of feed for the winter those kinda prices really adds up!

I sure hope you guys get some rain down there to break this bloody drought!

(Randi and her husband ranch in southwest Saskatchewan and produce Shorthorn, Hereford Black and Red Angus genetics. They ve recently gone to using Simmental-x bulls on some cows for terminal, growthy calves. You can read more about their operation at: easygenes.blogspot.com)

So there you have it. As the adage bears out one man s pain is another man s gain. No one likes to see a drought, but at the same time if you can help out and cash in too, why not?

Lee Hart

COMING EVENTS

” Manitoba Grazing School/ Forage Symposium The annual school organized by the Manitoba Forage Council is scheduled for Dec. 4-6 at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg. A number of speakers are lined up to talk about forage production and grazing management, and there is even a panel on how to manage the farm during wet cycles.

” Immediately following the grazing school, the annual Manitoba Forage Symposium will be held at the same hotel Dec. 7. It is a one-day event with a focus on forage quality topics as well as marketing. For information on both events contact the Manitoba Forage Council at (204) 622- 2006 or visit their website at www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca

” Canadian Forage &Grassland Association the annual meeting and conference of CFGA will be held Dec. 13 and 14 at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Saskatoon. Among the topics on the agenda, how to increase beef and dairy profitability through forages, pasture management, and hay marketing. For more details contact the CFGA at (204) 726-9393 or visit their website at: www.canadianfga.ca.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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