Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.
Dairies in the West have increased the use of alfalfa hay for dry cows, with the biggest turn-around in California. When alfalfa hay prices reached record highs in 2014, many dairies in California and in other areas of the West started feeding more wheat straw or other kinds of straw to dry cows to reduce feed costs. Some dairies in central California took alfalfa hay completely out of dry cow rations. Historically strong wheat prices and the decline in alfalfa prices have fueled more alfalfa usage for dry cows. Fair quality alfalfa is at its lowest price since 2009 in Idaho. In central California, some dairy nutritionists indicate that with the decline in Fair quality alfalfa hay prices and with the current market on wheat straw, alfalfa hay again has value in dry cow rations.