We had a dry summer. We got some not so great 1st cutting rye grass hay for $35 a roll and $10 a bale to haul and store in our hay supplier’s barn. He didn’t have enough for his own cows and told us to go find some. In September he got another cutting and swapped us good hay for the rye grass hay. Plus we bought more for $60 a bale. He stores it for us and brings it to us as needed. He doesn’t gouge his customers in time of drought because he is a good man. In fact, a darn fine man.
As reported in my journal, I picked up a 3'x3'x8' square bale of mixed orchard grass and alfalfa today weighing ~790 lbs for $150.00 That's about the equivalent of 13 small square bales which would be ~$16-18 each right now, if they were available. Pure alfalfa from Oregon/New Mexico/Colorado/etc is running ~$15/small square. Large squares of alfalfa (~100 lbs) are in the $24-26 range.
Two years ago I got 4 x 5 round bales for $25.00 a bale. The hay was baled around the corner from me and I drove the tractor up and brought it home myself - no loading fees. Last August I had a friend give me three 4 x 5 bales.thought she'd get another cutting in Sept - didn't happen. I also got 50 square bales from the local high school FFA group. I'm doling out hay by the stalk trying to make it last! It'll be close, but I'll probably need at least one more round. Prices here (south of Houston) for rounds are between $45 for 'native' grass up to $125 for Coastal.
Round bales here go for anything from $30 to $60. All depends on what size, to when it was made. We were so far delayed making first cutting because of the excessive rain. We made some nice 2nd cutting orchard grass in small sq bales. We are getting $5 a bale out of the field now, sometimes a little cheaper to old regular customers. We mostly deliver them to those tried and true customers. It will be going up to $6 a bale next year.
This year we do not have near as much as we need for the regular customers we have. Alfalfa sq bales 50-60 lbs go for $7 & $8 each. We don't make alfalfa as we usually only use 150-300 a year. It is very time sensitive to getting it made right and we often just can't get to it. Plus a small field of 5 acres would produce more than we need and to sell it we would have to cultivate a different set of buyers. There are enough people around here that make it that we usually don't have any trouble finding what we need. It helps to be established in the farming community too.
On years when hay is plentiful, like this year, there is also the problem with quality due to the delayed first cutting. We just sent off samples to see what it is testing, because I think the protein is real low and we will have to supplement to compensate. So plentiful doesn't always equate to good hay.
Luckily we have seldom had a problem finding hay. But then we try to keep about an 18 month supply so that we can get through a year of drought and still squeak by. And we will buy hay from friends that need to get it out of their field, or moved to make room for next year's hay, or hay that has been sitting for 2 years. If we can get it and get it moved, for a "cheap" price, it will add back organic matter into the soil and if the person even put the minimum of fertilizer on it, you are in essence getting free fertilizer also. So it will improve the quality of the pasture/ground it is being fed on.
I feel for those of you paying $50 and more for rolls of hay. You cannot really justify the costs if you are trying to be profitable. I understand that the goats are supplying milk, and/or meat... and that goats are more profitable than cattle. And for those that have horses, or other "companion" animals, it is not a matter of being profitable, it is a matter of this is what this hobby costs. I get that, I had horses for years. But for us, getting over $30-35 for a 5x5 or 5x6 roll, makes it too costly to feed to cattle.
Coffee is on.
Interesting to hear hay prices... amazing how much it varies. In our immediate area we had reduced amounts of hay produced.. due to lack of rain. But not to far away had plenty. So hay prices were $4.50 to $6.00 a bale when I bought a 100 bales to get us through this season last fall. (I need grass for our horses, which is generally cheaper)
When I had a horse it usually ran 2.75 to 3.50 a bale depending on what you got and where. I got mine about 15 minutes from my house. The people who I got it from dont do it anymore. Their hay won best hay in the county ten years in a row at the county fair. If I ever got another horse, I dont know where Id get the hay.