nevada ranch & farm exchange - summer 2010

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Ranch & Farm Exchange is a quarterly publication to meet the needs of Nevada's ranchers and farmers.




Volume 1 Issue 2 summer 2010

Inside This Issue

Hay prices continue to slide in Nevada Page 2 Farmers Markets increase in 2010 Page 6 Its high school rodeo time Pages 10-11 Agriculture - The new weapon in Afghanistan Page 12

Weakened demand, oversupply cause hay prices to drop in NevadaPER TON PRICES FOR NEVADA HAY$200 $190 $180 $170 $160 $150 $140 $130 $120 $110 $100 $90 $80 $70 $60 $50



By Rob Sabo Nevada Ranch & Farm Exchange

After several years of escalating prices for Nevada-grown alfalfa, and rising supplies as farmers planted more of the crop to cash in on the trend, prices have dropped in half due to oversupply and weakened demand. The per-ton price for Nevada Hay peaked at $199 in September of 2008, but starting in January of 2009 hay prices began an almost steady downward trend and now stand at less than $100 per ton. The dramatic price reduction affects the operations of dozens of northern Nevada farmers: Humboldt, Lyon, Pershing and Churchill counties are the states most productive alfalfa growers in that order. Marcia Ernst and her husband operate an 80-acre alfalfa operation in Fallon that Ernst inherited in 2007. Shes put off planting one of her fields because of the tumbling prices, and shes still got hay in her barn with more growing in the field. Ernst says current prices are at levels that havent been seen since the late 1990s, and shes concerned that she wont be able to sell of all her crop this year. Ernst sells mostly to smaller horsemen and cow or goat owners. It has been hard, she says. I didnt have any trouble getting rid of hay in 2007, and 2008 was no problem, but I have one-third of my crop left and will be cutting again in June. Demand for alfalfa and hay grasses has waned for a number of reasons. Foremost, says Don Gephart, agricultural statistician with the National Agricultural Statistics Service, is the fact that theres more than double the amount of hay under roof today than there was two years ago. Further impacting hay prices is




$172 $149 $136 $113



















NOVInside This Issue


2009 2010

Source: National Agriculture Statistics Service

decreased demand from financially struggling Nevada dairymen, who have switched from alfalfa to cheaper feed stocks, and reduced demand from horse owners, who have either sold animals or turned them loose to free graze on rangeland. When you are making $200 an acre on alfalfa as opposed to $80 on wheat, you get an oversupply on alfalfa, Gephart says. It is going to be much harder for alfalfa growers financially. Its going to put the pinch to them. Inputs are not going down any, but the market is coming down on them. When prices rose dramatically during 2007 and 08, horsemen and other large animal owners began driving out of state for lower-cost forage, says Valerie Whitfield, purchasing agent for Stockmans Supply in Elko. But people who chose to travel to Idaho farms for their hay purchases erased any gains made by lower-priced out-of-state feed through the high costs of fuel, she says. People were getting together on truckloads and splitting it for a better

price, but then again, once a person drove a truck to Idaho, by the time they go up there and back, it was just silly really. Whitfield says hay sales at Stockmans declined the past few years as cash-strapped horse owners either turned their animals loose or gave them away. Stockmans Supply currently sells alfalfa for $12 a bale and hay-grass mix for $13.49. Reno-area feed stores are feeling the effects of an oversupply as well. Sales of more expensive feeds soured as the recession took its toll on the wallets of large animal owners, says Cindy Oxley of Greens Feed on North Virginia Street. Equine owners that didnt either sell off their horses or find new homes for them started buying cheaper alfalfa cubes and pellets. As our economy shifted, horses in particular kind of took a hit, Oxley says. They arent something people have to have. People did what they had to do to decrease the size of their herds. Baled hay at Greens Feed currently costs $8.95, down from a high of $13.50. Mixed hay and straight grass is down to $12 and $13 a bale from highs of more than $20. Loyal customers who kept their animals and still bought hay severely reduced the amount of grain they purchased, Oxley adds. Dave Atherton, manager of Feed World on Spokane Street in Reno, says

sales are slow because so many people former customers have sold off their horses, or they are buying direct from farmers. Our business is pretty slow right now, especially for hay, he says. Donna Lewison, co-owner of Foothill Feed and Trailer Sales on Geiger Grade, says her business has stayed fairly stable because of the companys free delivery service. Foothill Feed delivers to a wide geographic circle, including Red Rock, Virginia City Highlands, Mt. Rose area and Spanish Springs. Alfalfa grass accounts for about 60 percent of Foothill Feeds revenues. Our customers are pretty consistent, Lewison says. We deliver free, and I believe they like that service. We also try to get our hay at one place so that its pretty consistent. Thats why our hay might be little higher than other feed stores. Foothill Feed sells grass hay for $13 bale and alfalfa and alfalfa grass mix for $12 a bale. When the business started in 2007, she was getting $8 to $21 a bale. Oxley doesnt see feed prices declining much more in the RenoSparks area because of transportation costs associated with bringing feed to the Truckee Meadows. The Reno area doesnt have lot of production, and they still have to pay for the fuel to get it here, she says.

Dont miss out on your chance to advertise your business or service in Northern Nevadas premier publication




Nevada Ranch & Farm ExchangeCall today!Central & eastern NevadaPablo Gonzalez of Greens Feed in Reno bucks a 120-pound hay bale onto a truck. Sales of hay have softened across northern Nevada due to increased supply and lower demand from equine and other large animal owners.

775-423-6041Western Nevada & eastern CaliforniaPhoto by Rob Sabo.


Page 2 Dairymen continue to lose money Page 4 A look at some of Northern Nevadas Centennial Ranches Pages 9-11 44th Annual Bull termed a success Sale Pages 18-19

Water outlook for 2010 looks tight


What horses shouldBy University of Nevada Cooperative Extension



Some tips on buying hay:1. Remember that quality forage should be the backbone of your horses diet (forage should be a minimum of two-thirds of their nutritional needs). 2. Have a good working relationship with a hay supplier to ensure a consistent and reliable source of hay. 3. Consider adding hay storage space to reduce the effects of price and seasonal fluctuations (i.e. hay is sometimes more expensive in the winter vs. the summer. 4. Buy hay early. Do not wait until late summer or fall to buy hay. 5. Plan in advance. Budget for any price increase and re-evaluate how many horses you can afford to feed. 6. Finally, try to keep your hay type (i.e., grass or alfalfa) consistent. Constantly changing hay types can lead to horse health problems, specifically colic. A good web site for purchasing hay or determining the price of hay and straw is at phosphorus ratio of 3:1 to 1:1. Rained-on hay may be fine for horses in spite of the color. Green is ideal but overrated. Green is an indication of Vitamin A content and means that the hay has not been rained on prior to baling. Actually rained-on hay (unless it received a lot of rain over several days) is only slightly lower in nutritive value than hay that was not rained on. That loss in value is usually due to more leaf loss due to more handling to dry the hay for baling. If it isnt moldy and it tests okay, it should be fine to feed because horse owners should be supplementing for the vitamins that tend to be lost in rained-on or older hay anyway.

With the rainy weather experienced during the first cutting of hay this year, many farmers had difficulty harvesting good quality hay. That is one reason horse owners that are thinking about purchasing hay should get a feed analysis done on all purchased forages. However, the problem maybe most horse owners may need help interpreting the results of their hay analysis. Horse hay should be 10-17 percent moisture and about 10 percent crude protein. Crude protein is not likely to be a limiting part of the diet except in

lactating mares, foals or performance horses, which would require higher levels. Hay with an acid detergent fiber (ADF) value of 30-35 percent is good for horses. The lower the ADF value, the more digestible the nutrients in the hay are. Hay at 45 percent or more ADF is of little nutritional value. Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) levels should be 40-50 percent, and most horses wont eat anything above 65 percent. Equine feed analyses also provide non-fiber carbohydrate (NFC) estimates to help select feed for horses that show sensitivity to starches and sugars and measure digestible energy (DE) in the hay. For a light working horse, DE should be about 20 Mcal/day, and most hays range from 0.76 to 0.94 Mcal/ lb of DE. Calcium and phosphorus ratios can vary among different types of hay, an adult horse in a maintenance phase should have a calcium-to-

It is important