Minnesota livestock producers needing hay and hay producers needing a market can now take advantage of the Internet to meet their needs.
The University of Minnesota Extension Service has developed a "Minnesota Haylist" database that can be accessed by computer at all county extension offices in the state. The Minnesota Forage and Grassland Council and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are also cooperating in the project.
The haylist is organized so that users can search for specific kinds of hay lots located in specific states and telephone area codes.
Initially, the haylist will serve as a forum for sellers to describe available hay lots.
Later, the haylist will add the ability to have buyers list their hay needs. Forage producers and users wishing to be included should contact a county extension office to complete the haylist entry form (copies of the form can be printed from the networked computer in the extension office). Extension personnel can then submit the form through the computer.
For a seller's listing to be accepted as complete by the computer, the following personal items must be provided: last name, state, ZIP code, and telephone number, plus specific hay lot data, including tons available, asking price, hay type (alfalfa, alfalfa-grass, etc.), form of hay package (small square bales, large round bales, etc.), harvest year and cutting, and number of days to be listed.
The asking price and the quantity must be on a per ton basis, not a per bale basis. Optional items include forage quality (relative feed value, crude protein, dry matter), transportation options, and full address (street, city, county, fax, e-mail address).
Those with access to a computer connected to the Internet can use the haylist without going through extension offices. The computer must be equipped with a graphical web browser such as Netscape for users to submit or retrieve haylist data.
The Internet address for the hay list site on the World Wide Web is http://www.mes.umn.edu/Haylist.
The haylist allows computer users to put in or change information on their hay lots on their own, and to search for and print out information on specific hay lots.
"Farmers are asking for hay supplies now and have been for some time," said Neal Martin, U of M extension forage agronomist.
"Minnesota's hay stocks on farms May 1 were 540,000 tons, the lowest on record for that time of year. In addition, U.S. hay stocks on farms are at an all-time low."
Martin says the 1996 Minnesota hay crop was 4,573,000 tons, 8.3 percent below 1995 production and the second lowest production during the last 16 years.
"The situation didn't improve much with the first cutting of alfalfa this year," Martin added.
"The first cutting was late and the yield was below
normal because of winter injury and low availability of soil moisture."