The season is conspiring against hay buyers. Hay merchants are busy, many of the major hay merchants are moving between 10 and 15 truckloads of hay each week and have been working at this for the past six weeks.
The biggest change to the hay market recently has been the return of hay buyers in the Goulburn and Murray valleys.
Hay deliveries have been focused on buyers between Deniliquin and Dookie.
Despite the big rains in late February when 250 to 300mm of rain fell on a large portion of this area, dairy farmers are now struggling to maintain pastures and their winter feed supplies.
Following the rain, those paddocks already sown to new annual pastures needed to be resown.
Due to the excessive rain, pasture seed burst.
Paddocks that had yet to be sown, set hard and required further cultivation.
While prices are not altering substantially, the true story lies in the volumes of hay that are moving from farm to farm throughout southeastern Australia.
Once cultivated, these paddocks required rain to allow the shallow-sown seed to germinate.
Although there has been an option for farmers to irrigate their paddocks, few took the gamble, as the chance of autumn rain seemed reasonable.
As there has been little rain since the big wet of early March, the production of feed from newly established ryegrass-based pastures has been very low.
Morning frosts are occurring in northern Victoria and southern NSW.
With the subsequent cold weather, grass production is further challenged.
It is estimated some farmers are as much as two months behind their normal pasture production.
The hay market is providing slim pickings.
Buyers in the north and southwest of Victoria are faced with little to no supply of high-quality 2011 cereal hay.
If available, this hay of about 9.5 ME units of energy is selling for more than $160 a tonne ex-northern Victorian farm.
Few dairy farmers are prepared to pay this price and instead prefer to make do with the weather-damaged hay produced in the 2010 season.
This hay is selling for $80-$100/tonne ex-Victorian farm and is estimated to contain about 6 to 7 ME units of energy.
Farmers are managing to use this hay as a dry cow feed, as an ingredient in their mixer wagons or as a roughage source to feed in combination with fresh pastures.
In western Victoria and South Australia, supply continues to tighten.
Like many areas, southeast South Australia is dry and pasture growth is limited. Livestock producers have their stock calving and lambing and quality feed is needed.
Top bales of paddock-stacked hay from last season have been selling for $90/tonne ex-producer's farm between Naracoorte and Bordertown.