Hay directory to connect growers, livestock owners
Driving down most any country lane traversing Stokes County, one can no doubt find fields and fields of hay growing thick and lush.
But not too many months from now, those fields will be harvested and dry, and anyone needing hay for their cattle or other livestock might be out of luck.
Unless Kendra Phipps can get her new Hay Sales Directory up and running.
“The purpose is to connect people with extra hay they (hay farmers) need to sale,” she said.
Phipps, the agriculture, livestock and forage crop agent at the Stokes County Extension service office, said she and her office are working to create the directory so those in need of hay for their livestock crops can have easy access to those who have excess hay to sell.
That could be even more critical this year.
“This year we’ve had drought conditions, so we’re seeing people needing hay earlier than normal,” she said. “I’m anticipating that will also deplete the hay supply. It’s important to plan ahead, for people to get their hay inventory together and start making a plan if they don’t have enough…It’s better to have a plan than to panic. I’ve already had a few calls of people looking for hay, and off the top of my head I can think of one or two people who consistently have hay for sale in the community, but I know we have more than that.”
The directory, which she plans to put online, linked to the extension office’s website, will include information such as the type of hay, if it’s stored in square or round bails, if it was a first- or second-cutting, and other factors.
Phipps explained all of those factors go into helping a livestock owner determine if the hay is usable. Horses, for instance, must get higher-quality hay for health reasons, free of weeds and other filler. Some other forms of livestock can accept a higher weed content, or need nutritional material more common in a first-cutting rather than a second-cutting. Pregnant or lactating livestock have different nutritional needs than other animals, thus affecting the type of hay a farmer might be able to use.
Even knowing how the hay is bailed, and how large the bails are, is a critical piece of knowledge for someone looking to purchase and store hay during the winter months.
“To my knowledge, this is is the first time we’ve had anything like this,” she said of the planned directory. “I’m really excited about it, and I think it could be a really great resource.”
Phipps has been in her position with the local agency since December of 2020, but with the coronavirus pandemic limiting her ability to go out in public, it’s only been in recent months that she has had the chance to get out and meet many of the county’s farmers.
She said the idea behind the directory is to help those who might need hay, particularly if supplies are depleted earlier this year, to find locally grown, affordable hay.
If area farmers run out of feed and must use hay during the winter, particularly if local supplies dwindle, that might force them to have to search further away, even take lower-quality hay at higher prices. The directory, she hopes, will help area livestock farmers see just how much is available locally, and give them the chance to plan now for purchasing and reserving hay.
She also hopes it will help growers to more easily connect with potential customers, so they can sell more of their hay each year.
“I don’t think this will lead to anyone growing any more hay, but I do foresee it will make it easier to make connections,” she said. “I do anticipate this could lead to more demand for those who have been consistently growing hay.”
Already in her time on the job Phipps has found people moving to Stokes County to farm, or moving back to Stokes to retire and do part-time farming, and this directly can be another tool to help them succeed.
Phipps said she hopes to have the full directory up and available online by the end of September, with the ability to periodically update the listing.
For anyone who has hay for sale wanting to be listed, she asks they call her office at 336-593-8179 or visit go.ncsu.edu/hay to be added to the directory.