Ervin Gara III, Torrington, WY, was back in the winner’s circle at the World’s Forage Analysis Superbowl last week. Gara captured first place in the commercial hay category.

This is the second time Gara has notched first-place honors in the category at the superbowl, held in conjunction with World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. He also has an overall championship (2006) as well as a fifth-place commercial hay award to his credit.

Gara’s 2009 entry, from a fourth alfalfa cutting, had a relative forage quality (RFQ) score of 302. The entry tested 24.6% crude protein, 23.1% NDF and 53.9% NDF digestibility.

At times this year, Gara was wondering if he would even have an entry. “It was a terrible year for growing dairy-quality hay in our area,” he says. “We had rain every cutting. We didn’t even get started cutting until June 15. Ordinarily we start around May 25.”

Gara was part of a delegation of Wyoming hay growers making the trip to Madison for the five-day expo. Besides taking part in the superbowl, the group manned an exhibit booth promoting Wyoming hay throughout the event. “We’ve been coming to this event for nearly 20 years,” says Scott Keith, livestock and forage program manager of the Wyoming Business Council. “It gives us an opportunity to showcase the kind of hay we can harvest in Wyoming. It’s a great way to put our hay in front of a large segment of the dairy marketplace. Dairy producers from every state and all over the world are here.”

From an individual marketing standpoint, Gara says competing in the superbowl and attending World Dairy Expo are a good use of time. “It gives you a chance to get your name out there. People see that I grow good-quality hay that will work well in their dairy programs. Every year, I meet somebody new looking to buy some hay.”

To see a complete wrap-up of this year’s superbowl results and/or to get information about entering next year’s contest, go to hayandforage.com.