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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Or anything else with hooves ever again. I told that to myself after losing a lot of animals in the winter of 1997. North Dakota is no place for man or beast in January or February. I believed it then, and I still believe it today. Though I do have great respect for those of you who do decide to raise animals in our harsh winters.

That being said, I'm interested in planting some ground back into alfalfa and some more ground into mixed hay. All of this will need to be sold and shipped. Twenty years ago we sold about 2,500 ton of mixed hay per season in 4X4 bales. Since I took over the farm, I sold all of our hay equipment and pursued small grains, corn, and oilseed farming, and have been pretty successful in that endeavor. However, yield monitors show that roughly 10% of every field does not have a good return on investment and I'm tired of wasting inputs on those areas. The recent collapse of the commodity markets and the success of the livestock market has me thinking of placing alfalfa as a sizable part of my rotation.

But since I never plan on feeding it myself, it has to ship. Where would a guy start looking to develop a market for this hay? I can afford to purchase a new line of hay equipment, but I would like to develop the market before deciding on how much acreage to convert back to forage. Are there reputable web sites for selling alfalfa or mixed hay? Are there brokerage firms that could market it for me? Thanks in advance for any help or direction you can give.
 

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Is there still a cube plant in Tioga? I think it was Heartland Feeds that owned it. They had a buyer in western Idaho I talked to a few times in about 2004. Couldn't ever get a deal put together, freight was to far. I'd forgot all about them.
Internet Hay Exchange is a decent place to post your hay, I've sold quite a bit on there over the years. The area around Rock Valley Iowa might be a viable market to look at, there is some Idaho hay shipped there every year, and you're closer than we are.
 

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I'm almost home from a road trip out to Vancouver Island. We came back through Washington state and I saw some massive hay assembly areas that I think were east of Ellisburg. I think it may be for the Asian markets, but I don't know.

It wasn't one of these sites, because they were massive piles enclosed in tarps, but it likely has something to do with a firm similar to the one in this video.

I hear you about the harshness of winter in the central north, its not very pleasant for cattle or people. The only time I ever sold all of my hay for good money is when you guys had an emergency feed assistance program, I think 97 may have been one of those years.

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A lot of the **** land around me produces average crops at best, but put it back into alfalfa and it really seems to shine (very sandy land and land with lots of salt)
 

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The area around Rock Valley Iowa might be a viable market to look at, there is some Idaho hay shipped there every year, and you're closer than we are.
Kind of funny this came up, yesterday on the Big Show (farm radio program in Iowa) they were talking about the hay markets and shipping from the west.

Apparently this year there is a lot less hay moving this way because less JD equipment moving that direction and therefore no back hauls for hay.
 

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I hear you on the cows... got married once so I'll never get another one. Hay market up here is very hit and miss. Everybody wants it on a bad year, but I burned a stack I couldn't move on a good one. Volume, quality and consistency has a lot to do with it. You need to develop a reputation for putting up quality hay and they'll come looking for you. I never committed enough acres to attract the really big buyers. It was just some small grass waterways etc. so I ended up giving it away standing.
 

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tbone95 good thing about alfalfa is after seeding cost you can just let it grow. it makes it's own nitrogen, put some phos with it at seeding.

I would look around to see if you could sell standing hay. .002cents a lb. no work, no worry about weather damage, no investment in equipment. or have it cut and baled on share basis. I would look at beef producer locally, with the price of cattle high and land hard to find anybody wanting to expand would love to buy standing hay.
 

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Apparently this year there is a lot less hay moving this way because less JD equipment moving that direction and therefore no back hauls for hay.
Exactly, the freight bill is more than the price of the hay on long hauls so you need to find a local market. If you can grow export hay, the price is better but if it doesn't make the grade you are back to selling it to a broke cattle guy. Or at least that is what they tell me but the brand new $80,000 dollar truck leads me to believe other wise.:):)
 

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tbone95 good thing about alfalfa is after seeding cost you can just let it grow. it makes it's own nitrogen, put some phos with it at seeding.
Not on my land you can't. Yes it makes it's own nitrogen. Ground sandy enough it drains well,.....but not too sandy or it will groow 8 inches tall and spindly. But my land, you've got to feed it K every year, on some land, lots of it. Then hope to **** you don't get winter kill, wet kill, and heaven forbid to get the weather to put it up decent! But that's another topic...
 

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tbone95 good thing about alfalfa is after seeding cost you can just let it grow. it makes it's own nitrogen, put some phos with it at seeding.

I would look around to see if you could sell standing hay. .002cents a lb. no work, no worry about weather damage, no investment in equipment. or have it cut and baled on share basis. I would look at beef producer locally, with the price of cattle high and land hard to find anybody wanting to expand would love to buy standing hay.
I agree if you can find the right market to sell standing hay, but you might want to adjust that price up some, a 3 ton crop only grosses you about 12 cents.......:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
What kind of soil and soil condition won't produce your crops decently but you figure will produce alfalfa?
No, not alfalfa in the poor ground, but a grass/alfalfa mix. Not trying to make a fortune on those areas, just tired of spending a fortune in inputs in those areas. It's nice to plant a section of wheat at a time, however not every spot in that section produces a profit, but you do get a lot seeded in a short time. When I look at the yield maps over the years, its clear that roughly 5% to 15% of each section of land consistently does not meet my average cost of production. These areas I would plant back to grass/alfalfa and may or may not hay it depending on the year and market.

However, I do plan on putting a few of my good quarters in alfalfa and sell it to the dairy or horse market. I also have a couple of quansets available to store the alfalfa after we put it up. Shouldn't need to be in the open for more than a week.

It's been quite awhile since we've had to sharpen the pencil on the balance sheet to show the banker that we can make a profit. With the low new crop prices on every crop we raise, compared to the input cost to raise those crops, forage crops on some of those acres may be the way to go for the next few years.
 

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We buy hay standing. I'd rather have it in 1/4 section fields than small spots when I'm buying. I'll put up my own in smaller spots that don't produce annual crops well. I wouldn't pay as much for hay in small fields. I think hay fits in well into a long term rotation. If I were you I would approach local cattlemen and ask them if any were interested in putting the hay up standing. If they are I would sign up a contract. Those areas that might not produce much crop might grow a phenomenal hay crop. It sounds like you're on the right track. It's never a good idea to keep throwing inputs at areas that don't produce a good return. Leaving it in hay might just fix them up for the future.
 

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Not on my land you can't. Yes it makes it's own nitrogen. Ground sandy enough it drains well,.....but not too sandy or it will groow 8 inches tall and spindly. But my land, you've got to feed it K every year, on some land, lots of it. Then hope to **** you don't get winter kill, wet kill, and heaven forbid to get the weather to put it up decent! But that's another topic...

I hear ya, plus if we do get a winter that it survives then you could have some spring kill from freeze thaw that puts the crown under water and keeps it there for to long and then we are dead. we also need a lot of K for and lime for our hay.

I worked in western ND and found the winter out there to be a lot more mild then the winter on the east side or where I am at.
 

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Yes to lime! Holy cow I can't believe I forgot that. Yeah, lime is fairly cheap per ton compared to fert, but I have a field that needs 3000 lbs per year to keep alfalfa going strong!!!

True on the water covering the crowns, I lost some that way this past spring. If something messed up could happen, it happened to me this year.
 

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Wow 3000 lbs lime. We don't even know what lime is around here. Ph is neutral to slightly acidic. I love alfalfa for n fixing and deep taproots that pull up stuff other crops can't access. Dry years that kinda sucks cause the soil profile is sure dryed out. One year of our 10 year dry period I remember them building an oil lease on one of our hay fields. Guy was cutting down a hill with a cat and it was amazing to see alfalfa roots actually down 18 feet or more. The ground was really dry but where it was predominantly grass the deep soil profile wasn't as much.
 
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