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2024 Winter hay situation: Is there enough?

The 2023 hay production was up year over year but below the 10-year average.

Derrell Peel

January 16, 2024

3 Min Read
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The Crop Production 2023 Summary recently released by USDA included data on hay production and December 1 hay stocks. All hay production in the U.S. was 6.3 percent higher year over year from drought-reduced production in 2022 but was 7.8 percent below the 10-year average from 2012-2021.  

Total alfalfa hay production in 2023 was 2.2 percent higher year over year but remains 9.8 percent below the 2012-2021 average.  Total other hay production was up 9.5 percent year over year in 2023 but was 6.3 percent below the ten-year average. 

Total December 1, 2023 hay stocks were 6.9 percent higher than one year earlier but were 10.8 percent below the ten-year average from 2012-2021 (Table 1).

Table 1.  All Hay Production and December 1 Hay Stocks, Top Ten Beef Cow States, 202

Top 10

Beef Cow States

2023 All Hay

Production

Hay Stocks, Dec 1, 2023

2023

1000 Tons

1000 Tons

% of 2022

% of 2012-2021

Average

1

Texas

8748

5500

+10.0

-20.8

2

Oklahoma

7313

5900

+96.7

+32.4

3

Missouri

4831

4700

+1.1

-14.3

4

Nebraska

5330

3850

+28.3

-10.2

5

South Dakota

6123

5400

+24.1

-0.3

6

Kansas

5023

3600

-12.2

-21.2

7

Montana

5303

3850

+18.5

-7.3

8

Kentucky

4428

3000

-3.2

-18.4

9

Florida

992

470

+4.4

-9.4

10

North Dakota

4428

4250

+28.8

+1.6

Top 10

Subtotal

52519

40520

+18.5

-7.3

U. S.

Total

118769

76721

+6.9

-10.8

Table 1 shows the hay situation for the ten largest beef cow states.  These states account for 57.8 percent of the total beef cow inventory in 2023 and represent nine of the top ten states for December 1 hay stocks. 

Hay stocks in the top ten beef cow states were up 18.5 percent year over year but were 7.3 percent below the 2012-2021 average for these states.  Total December 1 hay stocks in these states represented 52.8 percent of total U.S. hay stocks. 

Table 1 shows that hay stocks were higher year over year in eight of the ten states, with decreases only in Kansas and Kentucky.  Among the top ten states, Oklahoma stands out with December 1 hay stocks up 96.7 percent year over year and 32.4 percent higher than the ten-year average. 

Oklahoma had 2023 hay production up 88.0 percent year over year and up 36.8 percent over the 2012-2021 average.  Oklahoma and North Dakota were the only top ten beef cow states with December 1 hay stocks that were larger than the ten-year average. 

In general, the hay situation is better this winter than one year ago, but hay stocks remain below long-term averages in most states.  The current severe winter weather will significantly increase hay usage and highlights the reality that the overall forage situation is questionable going forward.

About the Author(s)

Derrell Peel

Livestock marketing specialist, Oklahoma State University

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