Australia's devastating mice plague is likely to have both short-term and long-term effects on the supply of quality hay across the country.
Feed Central has reported in their latest National Hay Market Report that they have had to reject a large portion of hay that growers want to sell, because of the severity of damage.
In the Feed Central National June Hay Market Report, Mr Maxwell said that mice continue to run rampant throughout the majority of NSW and parts of Queensland and Victoria.
"The persistence of the mice plague will have long-term and short-term effects of the supply of quality hay," he said.
"Thousands of tonnes of cereal hay and straw are being destroyed by mice who continue to burrow into bales looking for food, shelter and warmth."
If mice continue to run rampant, growers will be reconsidering their production choices for the new season. "We've already had many discussions with growers who are reducing the amount of land nominated for hay production and are instead looking at grain. In the long-term, this could be detrimental to quality hay supply," Mr Maxwell said.
Feed Central has a robust Quality Assurance system which identifies damaged product, however, recently there has been a large amount of mice damaged product deemed unfit for sale. "This system ensures we deliver and sell quality hay that is accurately described," Mr Maxwell said.
Some hay growers have managed to keep mice at bay with excellent control strategies, including one platinum Feed Central grower west of Forbes in NSW who built a mice barrier around his sheds and protected thousands of tonnes of valuable hay.
His solution involved corrugated iron sheets with steel pickets on hard gravel ground. Crusher dust and gravel was then pushed around the steel sheets to seal the bottom entry point. This grower is still seeing some mice climb up the steel posts and running along the top of the corrugated iron sheets at night but has noted mice internally trying to get out to access water. This grower also has a baiting system set up inside the barrier.
"Our area manager, Steve Page, has inspected these hay lots for sale and noted no mice damage internally, which is due to the success and innovation of his early action in a storage solution," Mr Maxwell said.
Mr Maxwell said there had been some increased demand for hay in Victoria and South Australia, but demand remained low in NSW and southern Queensland. A market for protein hay is proving reasonably strong. High-quality Vetch are hard to find, however, quality Lucerne is still available.
"The hay buyers that are in the market are looking for quality and quality only," he added.
Unlike 2020, there was minimal forage summer hay made this season due to concerns about storage with mice pressures, product damage and uncertain market conditions. "Quality Supply will continue to dwindle and if mice are not kept at bay, this will cause major concerns," Mr Maxwell said.
Vetch supply in Victoria continues to dwindle as does quality lots, with end users chasing protein. There is ample Cereal hay available, despite mice damage and variable quality.