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Shipping Hay by Rail

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  • Member since
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  • From: Calgary AB. Canada
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Shipping Hay by Rail
Posted by AgentKid on Friday, August 10, 2012 11:27 PM

I have been meaning to ask this question before, but I thought of it again yesterday after reading more news about this continent wide drought. There is talk now that there may have to be a government program to ship hay from western Canada, where there is some supply, to cattle ranchers in eastern Canada who are running out of feed.

When bulkhead flatcars were introduced on the CPR in the '60's, one of the intended uses for the cars were to ship baled hay. In those days of course it was square bales, but you could use the same cars for round bales as well. In Canada this business plan failed after a couple of years.

My question is, what is the state of railroad hay shipments in the US, or was there ever any business for that crop.

Bruce

 

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Posted by chutton01 on Saturday, August 11, 2012 12:14 AM

Well, not exactly a huge traffic flow, but sporadically a boxcar of hay is shipped to Belmont Park Race Track (Floral Park/Elmont NY, right on the Queens/Nassau border) during racing season (not sure about this year).  The boxcar is normally positioned at the south end of trackage of the race-track passenger terminal - this boxcar can be seen in this Bing bird's-eye view, standing off by itself at the end of track.

Here's a railroad.net thread from 2009 with a few images about it.

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Posted by DwightBranch on Saturday, August 11, 2012 12:30 AM

I remember several droughts in which farmers in parts of the US that weren't hit by drought donated hay to those in the drought-stricken areas, and railroads donated cars and the cost of transport. Here is something from NS about such a move (go down to 1986):

1986

  • After Senate approval but House stalemate, NS withdraws bid for CR, which observes 10th anniversary. President Reagan signs legislation authorizing CR's sale in public offering.
  • NS starts Triple Crown ® Service, using trailers that operate over both railway and highway.
  • Moves hay to help helps farmers in deadly Southeastern drought.

I think BN might have been another that donated their services, but I can't find anything on the net.

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Saturday, August 11, 2012 6:37 AM

When I worked for Washington Central we had shipments of Timothy (Grass) hay from Ellensburg to eastern race tracks, including Belmont. It moved in 89' boxcars originaly built for auto parts. I think UP published rates for hay in 50' cars.

Mac 

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Shipping Hay by Rail
Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, August 11, 2012 1:15 PM

isn't there a ban on bermuda hay in some parts of west . I seem to recall  --------

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Posted by samfp1943 on Saturday, August 11, 2012 9:38 PM

blue streak 1

isn't there a ban on bermuda hay in some parts of west . I seem to recall  --------

In a number of States Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon(L.) pers.) is considered a noxious weed.

see link @http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CYDA

FTL:"...This plant and the related entity italicized and indented below are listed by the U.S. federal government or a state. Common names are from state and federal lists. Click on a place name to get a complete noxious weed list for that location, or click here for a composite list of all Federal and State Noxious Weeds..."

Arkansas:
bermudagrass              Noxious weed
California:
Cynodon
bermudagrass              C list (noxious weeds)
Utah:
bermudagrass            

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Sam1 on Sunday, August 12, 2012 1:09 PM

AgentKid

I have been meaning to ask this question before, but I thought of it again yesterday after reading more news about this continent wide drought. There is talk now that there may have to be a government program to ship hay from western Canada, where there is some supply, to cattle ranchers in eastern Canada who are running out of feed.

When bulkhead flatcars were introduced on the CPR in the '60's, one of the intended uses for the cars were to ship baled hay. In those days of course it was square bales, but you could use the same cars for round bales as well. In Canada this business plan failed after a couple of years.

My question is, what is the state of railroad hay shipments in the US, or was there ever any business for that crop. Bruce 

Last year, when Texas was in the midst of one of the worst droughts on record, according to the news media in the Lone Star state, significant amounts of hay were shipped in from the upper midwest. Just west of where I live one could see numerous trucks with hay almost every day.

Trucks are more efficient for hay deliveries in Texas. It can be loaded at its source and delivered directly to the rancher. It would be unusual for a rancher to buy more than a truck load of hay.  

In the case of Texas, shipping it by rail would mean picking it up from a grower or a grower's co-operative, placing it on suitable rail cars, delivering it to a rail delivery point in Texas, loading it onto a truck, and delivering it to the buyer.  Not a good plan.

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Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, August 12, 2012 2:24 PM

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Posted by samfp1943 on Sunday, August 12, 2012 9:12 PM

In line  with what Mike(wanswheel) showed referencing the situation in 1921.

IN THE LATE 1980'S ( ABOUT 86) I Think it was, I remember stories of trains being loaded in Illinois for delivery of hay by solid train loads into the Southeastern States.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=266&dat=19860723&id=hP4rAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Vm0FAAAAIBAJ&pg=1146,2906123

and a similar drought situation in 2002 in Western Canada:

http://www.cowboylife.com/index.asp?p=231&cmd=viewarticle&nArticleID=54

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by MikeInPlano on Thursday, August 30, 2012 8:49 PM

 Add to your list:

Texas

Standard lawn grass for most of the state.

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Posted by rvos1979 on Friday, August 31, 2012 9:48 PM

I do remember that back in the drought of 1988, my dad did purchase a carload of hay from I believe Oregon.  It was baled as 90-pound square bales, which were then compressed to a smaller size and bound with plastic strapping, then was loaded into either a 50 or 60 foot, double door box (car had one sliding and one plug door on each side, if i remember correctly.).

The car came in late one evening, and my dad went to spot it on a team track down by the Burlington depot.  Next morning, we took the 4020, a pickup, and three hay wagons down, and found out they moved the car on us.  We moved it back where we could unload it with the 4020 and a chain, though they found out where the hand brake was real fast!!

Took us three days to unload the car, I "supervised" at the time, wasn't much that an eight year old could do then, I weighed as much as the bales!  I remember we could only stack the wagons four or five high, any more was too much weight for the running gear.  That one boxcar was enough to last us through the winter......

Randy Vos

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Posted by CatFoodFlambe on Sunday, September 02, 2012 7:36 PM

I saw quite a few loads shipped on the DT&I in Washington Court House, OH in the late 1960's and throughout the 1970's - the railroad would park empty 89' hi-cube boxcars on the team track behind the local station for loading.     No idea where they were going, however...

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Posted by Boyd on Monday, September 03, 2012 1:07 PM

It should be shipped in closed box cars to keep rain off of the hay. Large round bales or much larger square bales are more common these days. They move them with smaller tractors with loaders on them instead of breaking their backs moving them by hand.

Modeling the "FARGO AREA RAPID TRANSIT" in O scale 3 rail.

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Posted by lordgow on Monday, September 10, 2012 9:17 PM

Besides being handled by tractors, the larger bales are often wrapped in plastic, and even if not the round ones are pretty durable. While a closed car would be ideal, this also open up spine lumber cars as possible haulers.

As was mentioned, trucks are often more efficient, but if several farmers could be organized on both ends running a few rail cars could probably pay off.

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Posted by CNSF on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 2:24 AM
I'm guessing that hay is a relatively low-value commodity, thus sensitive to transportation costs. The type of equipment that would be used, therefore, might depend on what's surplus at the time, or what's empty in western Canada and looking for a load back east. It could wind up being stuffed into domestic containers, especially if lumber loadings are going strong.
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Posted by bn13814 on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 7:39 AM

For a few years c. 2003-2006, Kansas hay (called "fodder" on waybills) was shipped to a small grain elevator-owned warehouse in Remington, Indiana on the Toledo Peoria & Western. Routing was BNSF-(Peoria)-TPW*. I remember this movement being in 60' boxcars.

*TP&W's Galesburg Job handled this traffic from Galesburg to Peoria but for a flat per car fee; BNSF rate to Peoria.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 3:13 PM

One of the big reasons why it does not go by rail is that most rail lines do not run north and south. The got a drought in Texas, We got hay in North Dakota.

We would have to put the hay on a truck, bring it to the nearest team track (about a 3 hour drive) trans load it to a freight car and ship it. The farmer at the other end would have to go to a team track and load the hay on another truck.

Ahem. The way it works is: Hey, I have Hay for sale, come and get it. And he drives his truck up to my farm, loads the hay and drives home again. Maybe he can find some "back haul" traffic to North Dakota, and maybe with oil in the Bakken he can find such loads.

The "cost" of hay is always in the transportation of it.

North Dakota requires all bails to be strapped down. We collect fines from out of state farmers who do not use enough straps to secure their loads.

ROAR

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Posted by MarknLisa on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 5:44 PM

The IMC I work for has customers who ship hay. Usually from Alberta to horse farms & race tracks in KY & FL.  A few years ago some loads went to Ringling Bros. in FL.

CSX restricts hay in i/m containers. Apparently they had a spontaneous-combustion fire some years ago and now they have to clear the shipper to make sure they know how to cure the hay properly.

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