With many Michigan horse owners hard-pressed to find hay due to a severe supply shortfall, Jerry Lindquist is pushing a “creative” strategy to help them and beef producers.

If producers feed more cornstalks to brood cows, they can sell the hay saved as a result to local horse owners, suggests the Michigan State University Extension grazing specialist.

"We have an abundant supply of cornstalks in the state that the gestating beef cow will readily consume and do well on for the first two trimesters of her pregnancy – as long as one-third of the ration is still hay. There is still time to bale or graze a lot of cornstalks, and if that feed supply is fed, extra hay could be freed up and made available for sale.

"At the price margin of $70/ton for cornstalks and $175/ton for clean, non-weathered, first-cutting hay, the beef farm will profit even after baling, hauling and all loading costs are figured in – around $25-30/ round bale of hay sold."

He factored in buying 25% more stalk bales weighing the same as hay bales to be sold, since cows routinely utilize only 75-80% of stalk bales. Even so, beef producers could make extra profit, Lindquist says.

In his example, hay would cost $4/small square bale or $80/large round bale, although beef producers could charge more, he says. “The market is higher. But if they can sell locally for a decent profit and it maintains more of the animal industry and infrastructure in their community, maybe the decent profit is enough.”