Hay, the fodder that many farming operations around Australia (and their livestock) couldn’t do without.
History of hay
Extensive grazing was the main source of fodder for the livestock and while native grasses were sometimes harvested for hay, this was rare and expensive.
It wasn’t until the rise of the use of horses for transport and in industries like agriculture and construction that the demand for hay increased.
As Australia became more developed, the agricultural industry firmly established itself as a significant player in the economy, boosting the demand for fodder, such as hay.
1. Fodder for your livestock.
Good quality hay is an excellent addition to the diet of your livestock. Amongst other benefits, hay:
- Ensures good rumen function – According to MLA, “To maintain good rumen function and assist good animal health, supplementary feeding should satisfy the animals need for protein, energy, roughage and minerals.”
- Is a source of protein – According to Feed Central, “feeding lucerne, vetch or clover hay can be a great protein source addition to your livestock’s diet.”
- Is useful when a lush paddock is too rich a diet by itself for your livestock.
- Is invaluable during times of drought when things dry up and livestock have no access to pasture at all.
2. Contribution to our economy
- Hay is a key contributor to the productivity of Australia’s multi-billion-dollar livestock industry. Every year approx. 9 million tonnes of fodder – hay, straw and silage – is made, which totals around $1.3 billion.
- Hay has also become an important export commodity for Australia with the market growing significantly over the past 15 years or so. Australia’s hay and straw exports go primarily to Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China, as reflected in the graph from AFIA below.
- According to the ABARES in the 2016-17 year, the total export tonnage was expected to rise to 950,000 tonnes!
It seems hay isn’t just limited to being fodder. Farmers are showing off their artistic side with some pretty creative hay bale art.
A hay bale art display at Blayney ahead of the 2017 NAB B2B cycle event.
The Western District Town of Tarrington has hay bale sculptures on display every Laternenfest, an annual celebration of the town’s Lutheran heritage, held in the last week of November.
Australia’s largest display of hay bale art at Ipswich.