Pounds of alfalfa hay fed to milk cows declined in the West in 2017, but I only have hard data for California. According to the Dairy Marketing Branch in the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California dairy producers fed an average of 7.45 pounds of alfalfa hay per head per day in 2017. This was 11 percent below the 8.34 pounds fed in 2016. The amount of alfalfa hay fed in 2002 was 13.07 pounds.

The February overbase milk price in California was $13.01 per hundredweight and the projection for March is not much higher. Currently, milk production costs are around $15 to $16 per hundredweight in California. Dairies that are diversified and have other income such as almonds or other crops are weathering this lower milk price better than dairies that have milk as their main income. As dairies try to lower feed costs, pounds of alfalfa hay have been reduced.

Seth Hoyt

Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.