Feedgrain Focus: Dwindling hay supplies push up grain values

Liz Wells, June 7, 2018


ASW wheat Feed barley Cottonseed
Delivered Darling Downs $410 $410 $350
Ex farm/ex gin MIA NSW Wimmera $290 Wimmera $285 $290


DWINDLING supplies of hay are pushing animal feeders into a choppy market where pulses, cereals and cottonseed are in high demand and trading at values above last week’s levels.

Recent showers, with more forecast, are bolstering winter-crop and fodder production prospects for South Australia, Victoria and southern New South Wales.

However, graziers in central and northwest NSW are buying cottonseed, faba beans and cereals as they prepare to limp through the winter months with bare paddocks and failing hopes of grazing crops surviving or germinating.

The area of NSW feeling the biggest pinch from the dry season follows the Newell Highway from Moree to Forbes, and takes in all points west.

Much of the state’s tablelands, and even the Liverpool Plains, have minimal paddock feed, and graziers are competing with traders and end users on the few parcels of grain available locally.

Hay frenzy ends

Farm Tender online broker, Dwain Duxson, said around 80 per cent of the hay the company has booked in recent weeks has gone from Victoria to NSW and the Darling Downs in southern Queensland.

“There are still trucks on the road, but they’re carting loads that were booked weeks ago, and now people with animals to feed are trying to source grain, or whatever they can,” Mr Duxson said.

“The hay trade’s come to a grinding halt. Since January, Victoria and South Australia have pretty well got rid of two seasons’ worth of hay. It’s been mind-blowing.”

Cottonseed vortex

Traders report cottonseed is in very strong demand, and seed from gins outside southern NSW is very hard to source for prompt pick-up because trucks are collecting booked loads from gin yards the minute the seed becomes available.

Prompt cottonseed ex gin is quoted at around $300 per tonne in southern NSW, $320 in the Macquarie Valley west of Dubbo for July-August, and $345/t ex southwest Queensland gin.

Tight availability has graziers and commercial animal feeders sourcing almond hulls, pellets, mill run, faba beans, lupins and even pumpkin mix to fill ruminant stomachs.

“I believe traders are in the market in southern NSW now, and looking to grab parcels they can make a profit on,” a trader said.

“A lot of people are searching for any feed they can get at a reasonable price because they’ve found themselves with grazing crops that aren’t performing in these dry conditions,” one country NSW trader said.

“Demand is very high for prompt cottonseed.”

Traders have said there is limited liquidity in the market, as many transactions are being done directly from farmer to farmer and out of the trade’s eye.


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