Oats: hay quality for export and domestic markets

Page last updated: Thursday, 5 October 2017 - 2:02pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Foreign material

There is a zero tolerance of foreign material including dirt, stones, sticks, insects, wool, wire and carcases in export hay. Paddock management requires contaminants to be removed prior to planting.


A maximum of 10% affected leaves is allowed by most processors. Also check withholding periods on labels of all fungicides being considered for use. Do not apply fungicide if the likely cutting date is within a withholding period. For best control, plant disease resistant varieties.

For variety disease resistance information refer to Oats: choosing a variety.

Chemical residue

Export markets (particularly Japan) expect a clean and green product from Australia and thus limited use of chemicals. In 2006 Japan introduced regulations to enforce the safety of imported animal feeds which included the establishment of maximum residue limits (MRLs) for 60 chemicals in feeds including hay and grains such as wheat, barley and oats.

Speak to you exporter about their requirements for documenting chemical use and consider incorporating an integrated pest management approach.


The desired nitrate level in hay is <500mg/kg. Under infrequently experienced conditions oat plants, like other cereals, can accumulate much greater quantities of nitrates than this, and these are conserved in the process of hay making. In these situations the hay may be toxic, and in some cases the toxic potential can be enhanced if the hay is dampened by rain.


Exporters may require hay to be stored on farm until there is room at the plant. Export hay must be stored so that it is protected from sunlight, rain and wind. The floor of the shed should be concrete, bitumen or covered with heavy duty plastic to prevent moisture rising into the bales. A bonus is often paid to growers who are able to store export hay on farm. Domestic hay will also benefit from being stored under the same criteria as export hay.

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