National Hay Agronomy Stage 2 – Western Region – 2022 cropping season

Western Australian Agriculture Authority, a body corporate established under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007

  • Project code: PRO-016270

  • Project stage: Current

  • Project start date: Sunday, June 11, 2023

  • Project completion date: Sunday, November 26, 2023

  • National Priority: FCR-Production of high-quality export-grade fodder


Industry issue – The export of oaten fodder is a 1+ Mt sector, valued at $400M p.a., delivering a stronger financial return for producers than other crop rotation alternatives. Western Australia is the largest oat-growing region and provides 40% of Australia’s exported oaten hay. South Australia exports a similar quantity of oaten fodder, with Victoria, another key exporter.


Hay quality – be it visual, physical, or chemical traits – is valued by all hay exporters. Still, the preferred characteristics and their target value vary widely due to buyer and customer demand differences. In addition to traditional traits such as hay colour and the level of water-soluble carbohydrates, there is growing interest in the digestibility (as measured in Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System (CNCPS) package tests) of export hay and its relationship to animal performance.


This project continues the investment in the National Hay Agronomy project (PRJ-011029) with a more targeted focus on WA. The purpose is to influence grower practices and strengthen WA’s position as a supplier of quality oaten fodder.


Since the release of Brusher, hay-only varieties have generally failed to garner massive interest from export hay growers in Western Australia. In the recent release, Koorabup has failed to please most exporters and growers but has proven helpful to some.


The project evaluates the risks and rewards of adopting new varieties under differing management scenarios (focusing on the timing of nitrogen supply), environments and the impact of cutting date on hay yield and quality. 


Export Fodder

Research Organisation

Western Australian Agriculture Authority, a body corporate established under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007

Objective Summary

Assess the change in hay quality (CNCPS and traditional feed tests) of new hay varieties (dual-purpose and hay-only) with changes in crop management (focusing on cutting date and nitrogen strategy) to support industry advice on which variety to sow and how to optimise hay profitability.


Research question 1: Is the relative performance of new oaten hay lines improved by cutting earlier than or maximised around the watery ripe (Z71) stage?


Research question 2: Can growers use nitrogen strategy (focusing on when the nitrogen is applied) as a lever to alter hay quality and hay yield?