Highway 18 ‘South Dakota’s Hay Route’
Monday afternoon I was making a trip to the Armour, South Dakota area for a little 'get out town trip. As usual, my mind got to wandering a bit. Between scoping out what would be great northwest wind hides for coyote hunting setups I noticed truck, after truck, after truck coming to the east, hauling hay.
When I got to my friend's house I asked about the hay trucks. Dan and Brady Soulek explained that there is a hay auction a couple of times a week in Larchwood, Iowa. I told them, 'I believe it, you see a lot of trucks, hauling hay going down Highway 18.
Moving hay has come a long way. I remember the old trailers with chains to pull a stack up on the now crude-looking trailer. Half the hay would be lost along the road and was a common sight in the ditches. Now with big round and big square bales, hauling and transporting hay for livestock has changed dramatically.
Coming down Highway 18 I saw several trucks with loads of big rounds going to auction. I couldn't help but wonder if a classmate of mine from Lyman Schools (Wes) was one of them.
It turns out they were most likely headed to Larchlood, Iowa for the Rock Valley Hay Auction. Brady mentioned that with land prices and corn and bean production potential much higher in Iowa and other parts to the east, producers look to their counterparts to the west to supply roughage for their livestock.
Watch a load of hay going down the road on a windy day. You can see the load shift slightly on the trailer, but somehow they end up where they need to be at the end of the trip.
I was looking at Rock Valley Hay Auctions website. They have auctions as often as twice a week. Drivers either drop off a load, for a buyer to move to their place and sometimes drivers will show up with a load, leave it on the trailer and then deliver to feedlots after the sale.
Dan and Brady said there is a lot of hay shuffling around the state of South Dakota every day of the week. They mentioned that when you're in the cattle business you know who the producers and the haulers are to help you keep cattle fed throughout the year.
If you make a trip down Highway 18, keep your eyes open. Chances are you'll see a load of hay coming east.
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