Timely Hay Market Information Supports Livestock Production and Marketing Notches

Stephen K. Barnhart, Faculty, Agronomy

Problem Statement:

Harvested and grazed forages supply the majority of the energy and protein needs in beef cow-calf and dairy rations in Iowa. Whether home-raised and fed, or marketed through formal and informal hay marketing channels, having an accurate hay price is an important part of determining enterprise and farm profitability on many Iowa farms. Hay is not an agricultural commodity with readily available price information, particularly at the local level. Dr. Stephen K. Barnhart has been supporting local hay price discovery in his on-going forage Extension education programming.


For the past 14 years Dr. Barnhart has been compiling and summarizing hay market data for distribution to and use by Iowa State University Extension County, and multi-county Field Specialists.  The USDA Market News group provides limited hay price data, which Dr. Barnhart augments with more detailed hay market information from local hay auctions across the entire state. This summarization is distributed monthly to Iowa Extension staff.  Much of this price and associated hay quality and bale type information is never reported nor summarized in any other source. 


Extension County Agricultural Agents and county Extension Office Assistants use this current, and localized, hay price information in day-to-day clientele contacts, and in further dissemination to clientele though newsletters and internet ‘web pages’.  The monthly price summaries are also being compiled in a database by the ISU Extension Agricultural Economics and Farm Management Specialists as a valuable tool for farm enterprise evaluation. Extension County Agricultural Agents and county Extension Office Assistants respond informally that this is very useful information and that they are using it regularly in support of their client needs. The ‘multiplier’ effect of the further distribution of this information in newsletters and internet ‘web pages’ has also been encouraging, as evidenced by positive comments by and requests for further information from the agricultural press, State and local governmental agency representative and contacts from people from all over the country.  


103 Forages, small grains, and new opportunities

Page last updated: August 5, 2009
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu