National Hay Market Report February 2021

Feed Central National Hay Market Report

February 2021

Contributors: Jock Jackson, Account Manager and Cieran Maxwell, General Manager

  • Overall demand remains well below average for this time of year.
  • Increased production of Lucerne throughout Central NSW. Some buyers taking advantage of lower pricing.
  • High cattle prices are squeezing feedlot margins, and many are understocked.
  • Some trade occurring locally within Victorian regions.
  • Weather damaged and variable product. Quality assured product is a must.

Engagement in the market for fodder has been lacklustre from both buyers and sellers for the beginning of 2021. Many buyers have identified the need to fill their empty sheds but are yet to act, as they believe fodder prices could potentially have further downside to the current market.

There has been some movement in protein hay, but very limited demand for Cereal hay and straw outside of some feedlot purchasing. Feed Central believes that the abundance of pasture will affect the fodder market for some time, however for those looking to purchase now is the best time to buy.

Supply continues to grow as limited hay and straw is consumed and good amounts of lucerne and pasture hay continue to be produced. Currently, there are 170,000tonnes of hay listed on the Feed Central system. Of the hay currently listed, 35,000tonnes are legume hay (Vetch and Lucerne),25,000 tonnes are Pasture hay and 110,000tonnes are Cereal. Forage hay production and fresh-cut silage is starting to enter the
market and will put further pressure on cereal hay and protein hay pricing.

It should be noted that there is limited top quality cereal and vetch hay available; however, the supply of Lucerne has meant those looking to purchase still have some top-quality options. See “Figure 1” which highlights the variety, grades and tonnes of hay available on the Feed Central system currently.

Figure 1: Breakdown of Break down of tonnes of hay available on the Feed Central website.

Buyers must be wary of purchasing inspected fodder this season due to the level of damaged product. 2020 was an extremely tough year to make hay; the favourable growing conditions meant that many crops grew tall and rank, meaning thick stems and high NDF. The curing conditions meant that many Cereal crops had 10 – 20mm of rain on the windrow, downgrading a majority of the availableCereal hay as seen above. In 2021, if you are looking to purchase hay, it is imperative that it has been inspected prior to purchase. See Figure 2 for a comparison taken by our area manager Stephen Page. The straw on the left is 2020 Cereal straw, the straw on the right is 2019 Cereal straw.

Figure 2: Comparison of 2020/ 2019 Hay

Demand for hay, straw and silage has remained extremely low. There are multiple factors holding down demand for fodder;

  • An abundance of feed, driven by good rainfall reaching most of QLD, NSW and VIC (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Australian Total Rainfall (mm) January 2021

  • High cattle prices reducing lot feeding margins. The current high cattle prices are being driven by restockers demand and lack of available cattle. Thosegraziers who would normally hold cattle and feed are currently enticed to sell due to these prices.
  • Buyer perception that there is further downside to the current fodder market.
  • Reluctance to purchase Cereal hay due to mice pressure. There are some management practices that can reduce the impact of mice. If you require any more information on managing mice in haystacks please visit our website. Feed Central long term spread contracts are another way users of Cereal hay are able to manage the risk of mice.

The few buyers that are looking to purchase have been able to secure some extremely good value Lucerne and Cereal hay. First, cut lucerne has been trading ex Central NSW for $230/tonne. Second and third cut Lucerne is expected to fetch a $40 to $50dollar premium. Now is a great time to secure Lucerne, as Lucerne has the ability to store for long periods of time.

Dairies in SEQLD have finally received some much-needed rain in the past month. For now, the demand for feed in many of the dairies in SEQLD has subdued with many summer crops thriving under favourable conditions.

It is a similar story for dairies in NSW. Ongoing favourable conditions have meant that the demand from these dairies has been minimal, with some only requiring protein hay.

Dairies in VIC are now looking for high-quality Vetch. Many are now accepting the fact that they will be utilising damaged Vetchfrom 2020. Many dairies are reporting good feeding results from 2020 Vetch despite the damage. Vetch is being traded-in Victoriacurrently for <$250/tonne delivered.

High cattle prices, low stocking number commodities and alternative roughage and large production of on-farm commodities such as almond hulls have limited the tones of hay and straw purchased by these feedlots for the beginning of 2021.

Pricing into feedlot sales has been tight, the current cattle market has meant that costs have had to be cut in order to make a margin in the lot feeding sector. With plenty of product circulating the market and many hay producers and traders looking for end-users the competition to secure contracts has been competitive. Pressure to reduce prices is being passed on the lot feeding sector from processors who have reportedly been losing up to $300 per beast.

While the fodder market remains slow, it is great to see the current optimism within the rural industry. Although Feedlots and processors are currently doing it tough due to restocking pressure, the national herd is

The BOM has released its latest climate driver update. In this update, the BOM has stated that La Nina has reached its peak and is likely to reach neutral values by Winter2021. The update still predicts above-average rainfall for the majority of Australia until at least Autumn. It is likely if this
prevails that we will see some level of normal winter fodder trade.

This is a National Hay Market Report. It is intended as a general guide only. Hay can be differentiated in value on location, visual grades, feed test, storage, and bale weights. We strongly recommend that buyers and sellers for more information or contact a member of our team.


  • Neville Janke

    Neville Janke is a qualified agronomist and Horticulturist with over 20 years of experience guiding farmers in the Agricultural and Horticultural industries. With this experience, Neville has been helping long-term users of Hay and grain to experience the Feed Central way of sourcing quality Feed for hungry cattle.

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