4,000 km of Hay: a roadtrip with Anthony Balzer and Jeff Collingwood

Podcast Highlights

In this episode of Hay Matters, Jon Paul Driver catches up with Anthony Balzer and Jeff Collingwood following their recent road trip across NSW. They share some of their insights from the trip, including how the recent weather impacted the farms they visited, the current hay quality, and how the market is looking as winter approaches.

Episode Highlights:

  • Anthony and Jeff travelled from Toowoomba to Glen Innes, then on to Tamworth and Forbes, up through the Hunter Valley and then looping back via Moree.
  • They found numerous areas to be drier than expected, with rainfall proving inconsistent across various regions. This has resulted in some farms boasting full paddocks, while others remain dry.
  • The demand for hay is on the rise again due to drier conditions, as buyers approach the end of the reserves stored away pre-Christmas, in anticipation of a heatwave that never materialised.
  • Reports indicate that numbers in the feedlots have reached an all-time high, demonstrating significant confidence in the cattle market.
  • With drier weather possible going into winter, it’s important to keep an eye on feed reserves to avoid the need to purchase larger quantities in winter.
  • There are some excellent lines of hay available, including lucerne, providing ample opportunity to explore a wide variety of feed options.
  • After the summer slowdown, hay has started to move again, and this pace is expected to increase as graziers prepare for winter.

Stay up to date and learn more about the industry with the Feed Central Hay Matters Podcast – your portal to the intricate world of hay, brought to life through real stories and expert analysis.

Jon Paul Driver – Welcome to the Feed Central Hay Matters podcast, your go-to source for all things hay related in Australia. I’m your host, Jon Paul Driver. In today’s episode we’re joined by Anthony Balzer, he’s the Regional Sales Manager for Feed Central. We’re also joined by Jeff Collingwood, Business Development Manager at Feed Central. Welcome to the podcast!

Anthony Balzer – Thanks, JP. Great to catch up again. 

Jon Paul Driver – Now, of course, we had the good fortune to travel around the southern part of NSW, Victoria, and South Australia together back in August, right. 

Anthony Balzer – We did, we did, yeah. 

Jon Paul Driver – Oh boy that was like ten days in the car. 

Anthony Balzer – Uh-huh, pretty much yeah. It was a long trip and just finished one similar.

Jon Paul Driver – Let’s go to that trip that you were just on, what part of the country were you in?

Anthony Balzer – Yeah, so we headed from Toowoomba, heading down through Glen Innes, Tamworth, stopping along the way right down to Forbes, which is a part of New South Wales, before turning around at Forbes and then heading back through Tamworth and Moree as well, we also included on the way back before heading back to Toowoomba. 

Jon Paul Driver – That’s a fair stretch of country. Was there anything particular that you noticed just as you were driving?

Anthony Balzer – I think as we were driving, we certainly noticed that, you know, I think the paddocks and that are a little bit drier than what we anticipated. We’ve had a fair amount of rain up here on the downs, so driving down into those areas, it was very interesting to see what the last few months have looked like for them.

I guess the amount of animals as well, cattle, sheep, and where they are situated, where they’re not, and learning a bit more about the layout and the people that we’re serving and where the opportunities lie for us moving forward.

Jon Paul Driver – The conditions in NSW are drier than you anticipated.

Anthony Balzer – That’s correct, yeah. Certainly, some of the paddocks were not as green, and the feed wasn’t available as much as what we thought, as much as what we’re seeing on the Downs at the moment. When you dig a little bit deeper and start pulling up and talking to clients and talking to people about what’s going on, there’s certainly areas that have received I guess the amount of rain that we have, but it’s very patchy, meaning that one guy could be struggling for feeding his paddocks on one side of the hill, where the guy on the other side of the hill will certainly have much more rainfall and feed available in the paddocks.

Jon Paul Driver – And what were you hearing from the customers that you were visiting? Any particular trends?

Anthony Balzer – For us, it was touching base with them just about our service and their needs and what they’re looking for moving forward. I think we found that the current market like sales I guess are down slightly for us at the moment, it has been a little bit of a quiet period. But the reason for that, I think we put it down to, not THE reason but one of the reasons is that there was certainly a lot of talk pre-Christmas about how dry it was going to be, how hot it was going to be, and people were starting to I guess panic about the animals and feed. So, they did come out and secure a lot of products for us, and we had a couple of very good months leading up to that. Then, when things turned, and they did receive the rain and the feed was available in the paddocks, that product’s gone into the shed now it’s starting to dry out again. That product is starting to be used out of the shed and they’ll be back in the market after that for some more. So, I think the use of hay is increasing again because it is drying up, but they’ve got that stuff in the shed that they put away pre-Christmas, waiting for the heat to come that didn’t come, so they were able to get feed out of the paddocks, which is great. But yeah, I think we’ll see the market increase over the next few months if that dry continues.

Jon Paul Driver – You talked about the number of animals. Are you seeing any trends particularly in sheep or cattle?

Anthony Balzer – Certainly, there are good numbers of cattle out there. Also read an article, I think last week, and it was pointed out to me that numbers in the feedlots now are at the highest they’ve ever been, so that shows a lot of faith in the cattle market. You know, the sheep are scattered here and there, and there’s certainly some numbers out there in certain areas. But yeah, you know, I guess when I was looking for animals, we’re looking at those areas where there’s more opportunity for us to target with certain products and maybe what areas the animals aren’t there that we can pull back and focus on the other areas where the opportunity lies.

Jon Paul Driver – Sure, sure. Let’s bring Jeff into the conversation. Jeff, welcome to the podcast.

Jeff Collingwood – Thanks, JP. Good to be here.

Jon Paul Driver – You were on this trip with Anthony, what stood out to you?

Jeff Collingwood – Well, we covered a fair bit of country, and what we found is that it’s probably a lot drier than what we thought it might be. Eastern Australia’s had a good amount of rain in the last few months, contrary to what we thought we were going to get, but it is drying out in spots. 

Jon Paul Driver – I have to think about the seasons backwards from what I’m used to, you’re going into Autumn, into the sowing season, we have to think about producers considering planting decisions and winter.

Jeff Collingwood – Change of seasons is always a time to reflect on your feed reserves, looking forward. People put a fair bit of hay away early in the year when we thought it was going to be dry, and we’ve had good rain, which is fantastic for the farmers and graziers. But we can see that a lot of the country is sort of drying up a little bit now, and if we’re going to get dry weather coming into winter with the cold, we’re going to have to keep an eye on our feed reserves.

Jon Paul Driver – And trying to put myself in the shoes of a grazier or a feedlot operator, what am I thinking right now?

Jeff Collingwood – Well, you know, it’s going to be cold, and we expect a drier winter than what we’ve had for our summer. So, I think graziers will be taking the opportunity to look around and see what feed’s available. As we know now, it’s probably the best time to be buying hay. You don’t want to be buying it in the middle of winter when you run out of feed, so people are probably gotta stock up, put some aside currently.


I think we’ve had a great summer. We’ve had good rain in a lot of different parts, but I think generally speaking, the farmers think that it’s probably starting to get that little bit drier, so they’ve got to cover their bets now. They’ve got to put a bit more feed aside because they don’t want to be buying through the middle of winter.

Jon Paul Driver – As you talk about buying through winter, it’s completely different for us. I hate moving hay in our winters because we can have three feet of snow and have to chain up trucks to move product. That’s not necessarily the case for you, you’re just talking about getting the logistics down for transporting hay over the distances that you transport hay in Australia.

Jeff Collingwood – Well, I think, yeah, currently, there’s a lot of good lines of hay about, and you’ve probably got more opportunity to view a lot of different lines so that you can buy with confidence at the moment. Get the product that you need. I think that’s the beauty of probably looking to buy hay now. 

Jon Paul Driver – Are there any spots where the inventory is tight or there’s excess inventory of high quality product? We know there’s quite a bit of rain damaged hay out in the paddocks, but are there any particular regions that spring to mind?

Jeff Collingwood – We saw some great lines of lucerne hay. Some of the growers we visited were growing excellent quality lucerne hay, and it’s at a good price at the moment, and I don’t think people would be disappointed with that.

Jon Paul Driver – And if you had a crystal ball, which way are the prices moving?

Jeff Collingwood – Now is the best time to be buying hay. Traditionally, you don’t…. once you get to February, once the rain starts to dry up. There’s a lot of feed about, a lot of people are making hay or made hay. I think now is probably a good time because it sells, it sells, the lot you’re looking at today might not be there in a month’s time either. So, you do need to secure some.

It’s funny how the market changes. Like, I think generally speaking, through summer, you talk to people in different regions like in Victoria, some of the hay was slow moving. Some people thought they might have to drop prices to move it, but other people said just hold firm. Australia is an interesting country, as you know, because it is feast or famine here. You can think that these days of good rain are never going to stop, but those who’ve been around a while know that it changes pretty quickly, and you just get that feeling that we’ve had a good run of rain and that it’s just starting to dry off that little bit.

Jon Paul Driver – Jeff, I should’ve asked you about your background. You’re relatively new to Feed Central, but you sound like you know these markets relatively well. 

Jeff Collingwood – Yes, so I’ve been really pleased to land at Feed Central to work with the team here. They’re a great bunch of people, and my background is in cattle nutrition. I spent quite a while working in dairy nutrition, did a lot of work with Bob Patton from the States when he came over and did a lot of dairy nutrition work with us. Also spent quite a bit of time helping farmers in feeding cattle, sheep, horses to get the best out of them across Queensland and New South Wales. I fed a lot of cattle through the 2020 drought, before it broke in 2020. It just teaches you how you’ve got to be prepared in Australia. You always gotta be prepared for the next season.

Jon Paul Driver – Anthony and Jeff, thank you for your thoughts today. Once again I’ve been joined by Anthony Balzer, he’s the regional sales manager, and Jeff Collingwood, he’s the Business Development Manager for Feed Central. A big thanks to our guests today for sharing their insights. Stay tuned in for more episodes coming up. 


  • Tim Ford

    In 2002, Tim established Feed Central, leveraging over many years of professional hay and agricultural experience domestically and internationally. Tim was born and bred in the Riverina and has travelled extensively within domestically and internationally to learn more about hay and the national and international fodder markets. Tim is a sought-after media commentor on matters relating to the fodder industry and often advises corporate and family companies on hay procurement and marketing strategies. Tim advises all levels of government on matters relating to the industry and was a member of the Prime Minister’s Drought Task Force during the 2017 -2020 drought. Tim is both a strategist and innovator leveraging digital solutions to drive people and client centric solutions across the industry.

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