Derrell Peel, livestock economist at Oklahoma State University, says the latest USDA hay stocks inventory shows the December 1 stocks were the lowest on record dating back to 1973, 50 years ago. The USDA reports total stocks of 71.9 million tons, down 9 percent from the prior year. States with the largest declines were centered in the Great Plains from Nebraska in the north to Texas in the South (Figure 3). Nebraska, with a decline in stocks of 35 percent, was second only to Texas for the largest decline. Texas saw a decline of 37 percent.
As noted above Nebraska’s hay production last year, including alfalfa, was off nearly one-third. Peel reports hay production nationwide was the lowest on record since data began to be collected. According to the Daily Livestock Report,the first quarter of the year is typically when the most hay is fed. The low hay stocks portend further difficulties for cattle producers. Combined with rising feed prices and the recent winter storms, the low stocks only add to the challenges facing the state’s producers.
Figure 3. Percent Change in December Hay Stocks
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service