A direct-mail marketing campaign helped a Texas hay grower bolster demand for the fermented, bagged forage product he produces.

The strategy enabled Steve Rader, president and CEO of Chaffhaye, Inc., to expand his market into 15 states and Japan.

Rader markets Chaffhaye as an easy-to-handle, premium alfalfa product suitable for all classes of horses, cattle, deer, elk, goats, sheep and exotic animals. It has a guaranteed storage life of at least two years, though the 50-lb plastic bags keep the product fresh almost indefinitely, he says.

The entrepreneur grows around 450 acres of alfalfa near Dell City, TX. He bought the Chaffhaye company close to three years ago.

The alfalfa is field-dried to 50-55% moisture, chopped and brought into the plant, where it's lightly misted with molasses to aid the fermentation process. The high-moisture hay is then compressed into 50-lb bales, bagged in airtight bags and fermented for 21 days. The resulting premium-quality haylage-type product is 18-20% protein with a relative feed value higher than 190, says Rader.

The product is sold to U.S. livestock owners and feed stores, and is also exported to Japan.

“Chaffhaye sells for between $8 and $13.50 per 50-lb bag, depending on location,” Rader says.

About 80% of the sales are in the South and East, with concentrated marketing efforts in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Colorado, California, Kansas, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Rader is working with a dealer network of 75-80 people to expand the market throughout the U.S.

He builds demand for his product by sending direct-mail advertising to livestock associations throughout the country, encouraging livestock owners to contact the company if they're interested in the product. When a number of potential clients have shown interest in a particular area, Rader contacts local feed stores to build a relationship that helps supply the customer base with his product.

He also promotes Chaffhaye via booths at livestock shows and through his Web site. The marketing tactics are working because Rader says demand is close to outpacing supply.

“We would be interested in working as part of a joint venture with other hay producers throughout the U.S.,” he says.

In addition to building a new plant in Dell City to help meet the increasing demand, Rader is investigating the feasibility of building production plants in Arizona, Montana, Colorado and Virginia.

Chaffhaye was originally developed for horses owned by the British royal family. As Rader explains, “The queen of England was sending horses all around the world during the 1970s and needed a consistent, easy-to-transport feed.”

The original product, developed in England, was called Chaffhage. When the idea was brought to the U.S. by a group of Texas hay producers in the 1990s, it was renamed Chaffhaye. Rader bought the com-pany and necessary equipment in 2003 and set out to expand sales.

Contact him at 505-523-1992, or visit www.chaffhaye.com.