Utah’s arid and sunny summer conditions create the ideal climate for growing top-notch alfalfa hay. In fact, international and domestic buyers who demand consistent, high-quality hay look to Utah and surrounding states, says Mike Pace, Utah State University Extension agent.
Utah hay contains a high relative feed value, which takes into account crude protein, fibers and total digestible nutrients important to a healthy animal’s diet.
“We produce some of the best hay in the western states,” Pace says. In 2013, Utah farms grew 2.73 million tons of hay valued at nearly $490 million, the second- highest value in state history, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Bailey Farms International, based in Ephraim, grows hay on a portion of its 10,000 acres, yet also buys a considerable amount of alfalfa hay from more than 600 farmers in Utah and surrounding states.
For more than 20 years, Bailey Farms International has sold its product only internationally, says Tom Bailey, the company’s president. In fact, the company also maintains an office in Beijing, China. Customers originate from the Pacific Rim and Middle East, where the hay is fed to dairy and beef cattle.
“With that being said, the majority of the hay in the state of Utah is used domestically, either here in the state or out of state to the domestic market,” Bailey says. “With better than 2 million tons of hay being produced in Utah, we’re shipping a small portion of that at 200,000 tons per year.”