Buying opportunities for lucerne hay have rarely been better following a growing season in which dryland crops yielded more like irrigated crops.
Tim Ford, managing director of national fodder supply company Feed Central, said the wet spring and summer conditions that damaged many cereal hay crops in southern Australia still helped to produce bumper dryland lucerne crops throughout NSW and Victoria.
Dryland farmers who normally produced one cut had produced between four to six cuts this year.
With yields and supplies well up, prices have dropped and were now around $100 a tonne lower than the same time last year, Mr Ford said.
Mr Ford said the dryland lucerne hay available had slightly thicker stems than in previous years due to the wet season, but was still well suited to lot feeding and cattle weaning operations.
“It is hay that will put weight on cattle,” Mr Ford said. “It has good smell, good colour, and in a feedlot situation it is hay that will attract cattle to the bunk.
“They’re going to eat a lot of it and that is a good thing when you’re trying to put weight on cattle at a cheap cost of gain”.
Hay suppliers are also hoping that the onset of cold winter will also bring an end to the mice invasion underway across eastern Australia.
A mice plague at the same time last year in South Australia, Victoria and NSW was largely arrested when mice succumbed to pneumonia during the first frosts of winter.
Mr Ford said ground level baiting was also helping to keep mice numbers under control where they were a problem.
“In the last week or so people have reported that they have slowed right back, whether that is due to baiting or the cold weather, probably both."
* To avoid the risk of any possible confusion due to the similarity of the names, there is no connection between the national fodder supply company Feed Central and the beef industry daily news website beefcentral.com