NSW farmer Richard Baker is making the best cereal hay in Australia.
Mr Baker, from Howlong, has won the national and state awards for the best cereal hay feed test analysis in the 2018-19 Feed Central National Hay Quality awards.
He also had the best canola hay feed test analysis and the best cereal hay visual appearance score.
Other NSW winners in the annual competition were Lochie Donald from Mulwala with the best lucerne hay feed test analysis, Mark Green from Forbes with the best lucerne hay visual appearance score, and Brad Johnston, from Bimbi, with the best canola hay visual appearance score.
The 2018-19 awards were launched last week in Queensland by Australian Fodder Industry Association CEO John McKew.
Feed Central Managing Director Tim Ford said the annual awards had been heavily impacted by drought, but some producers had defied the conditions to produce good quality hay.
“We were very impressed by the efforts of some growers to excel despite the drought,” Mr Ford said. “With record high prices and a very aggressive selling season, they could have sold their product at any quality, but they went to great effort to make good quality hay.”
He added that the drought had led to some very good product. “Dry conditions always make good quality hay, but we haven’t had the quantity this year.”
Victorian farmers won four of the five national awards, reflecting the severe impact of the drought in northern and central Australia.
Frank Fanning from Kyabram had the best Lucerne hay feed test analysis and the best Lucerne visual appearance score in Victoria and across Australia.
Richard Wilken from Warracknabeal also scored the national and state double for the best vetch hay feed test analysis and visual appearance score.
Tom White from Hopetoun had the best cereal hay visual appearance score in the state and country.
The awards recognise and encourage growers to aim for high quality hay.
“They help to set a benchmark of quality that will improve the consistency of hay in Australia, which leads to better returns for suppliers and better outcomes for end users.”
The Feed Central National Hay Quality competition is the only competition in Australia based on commercial lots of large square and round bales that are genuinely for sale.
Hay listed with Feed Central in preparation for sale is inspected on-farm by a certified Feed Central inspector and is eligible for entry in the competition.