Wyoming performs well at Forage Superbowl, sees strength in youth
Following the Wyoming State Fair Hay Show, a number of Wyoming producers sent their highest quality alfalfa hay to the 2016 World Forage Superbowl, held in Madison, Wis. in conjunction with the World Dairy Expo.
“In the World Forage Analysis Superbowl Contest, forage producers enter their highest quality forages in seven different categories to compete for more than $25,000 in cash prizes,” says the event website.
Scott Keith, executive director of the Wyoming Hay and Forage Association, says, “Wyoming did really well at the World Forage Superbowl this year. The event is in its 33rd year, and Wyoming producers consistently do really well.”
Among notable accomplishments this year, Dave Hinman of Hardrock Farms in Wheatland again took the title of Grand Champion in the Commercial Hay Division. He was followed by Kelly Hinman of Lazy 2K Livestock, also in Wheatland, in second place.
Other results include a ninth place finish for Cole Hill of Basin, 10th place for Nicholas Gutierrez of Casper, 12th place for Ervin Gara of Torrington, 13th place for Clay Scott of Triangle X Ranch in Kinnear and 15th place for Camey Fegler of Fegler Farms in Arapahoe.
“One of the neat things that came out of this year was Nicholas Gutierrez winning 10th place,” Keith adds. “Nicholas is only 13 years old.”
Gutierrez won the young producers category in the Wyoming State Fair Hay Show, and he also came in second with his open class alfalfa.
“My family has been growing hay since 2002,” says Gutierrez. “When I was nine, I was given the chance to drive the tractor.”
“Since then, I’ve been hooked on hay production,” he comments.
Gutierrez is involved in every part of producing hay – with the exception of running the stack wagon.
“I do all the dirt work, planting and irrigation for my hay,” he explains.
The secret to producing the best hay possible is to make sure the moisture content is right, Gutierrez says, which involves getting up in the middle of the night to put it up.
“For good alfalfa, I have to get up in the middle of the night and make sure the moisture is just right and that the weight is good,” he explains. “Also, if I’m going to produce the really high-quality stuff, I want to make sure it’s stored in an enclosed area.”
2016 marked the second year of Gutierrez’s participation in the Wyoming State Fair Hay Show, and he says their family started entering hay to market their product.
“Last year, we had a lot of hay and needed to get it out there for people to see, so we entered the State Fair Hay Show,” he explains. “We did well, but not as well as we’d like. This year, we put more hay into the show and did really well.”
Gutierrez’s father Jason comments, “As parents, we are very proud of Nicholas and continue to be impressed with his self-discipline and sense of accomplishment to produce great hay. These experiences have provided Nick with lifelong lessons and opportunities that will provide benefits for his lifetime.”
His mother Elizabeth adds, “Nicholas enjoys what he does on the farm. While many farm kids play games on their phones, Nicholas enjoys experiencing production agriculture.”
As he looks to the future, Gutierrez also notes that he’ll continue to produce hay and continue to enter it in the show.
“I love the way alfalfa grows, and I like baling it,” he comments. “I think it bales and feeds better than grass hay, but that’s just my personal opinion.”
Today, he’s pursuing involvement in FFA as an eighth grader at Poison Spider School.
“Ag is my favorite subject in school,” he says. “I plan to keep showing my hay. This is something I’m going to do for the rest of my life.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.