2012 drought sharply reduces hay supplies

A chart showing the hay stocks and silage production per roughage consuming animal unit.

Stocks of all U.S. hay stored on farms totaled 76.5 million tons on December 1, 2012, down sharply from a year ago because of the effects of the 2012 U.S. drought. When measured relative to the demand for hay, by converting livestock inventories into roughage consuming animal units (RCAU), 2012 hay stocks were the lowest since 1984. The drought-reduced 2012 commercial hay harvest, coupled with diminished availability of forage on pasturelands, led to the drawdown of onfarm hay stocks. The decline in hay supplies is partially compensated by record production of silage, as growers facing poor grain yields chose to convert their corn and sorghum crops to silage. Also, to assist livestock producers affected by the prolonged drought of 2012, a record 2.8 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land was opened to haying and grazing. This chart appears in Feed Outlook, FDS-13a, January 2013.

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