Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.
In the second quarter of 2015, California dairies fed milk cows an average of 8.05 pounds per head per day of alfalfa hay, down from the 8.62 pounds in the second quarter of 2014. This compares to the 8.65-pound average for all of 2014, according to the Dairy Marketing Branch in the California Department of Food and Agriculture. I have heard that dairies throughout the West, overall, are feeding less alfalfa hay than a year ago. In California, just over a half a pound less of alfalfa hay fed per head per day doesn’t sound like much, but when you multiply that times 1.5 million dairy cows (not counting dry cows) in California that is 156,000 tons of hay annually. Combine this with the high carryover of alfalfa hay at dairies coming into this year and you can see why the drought in California has had little impact on the alfalfa hay market in 2015.