Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How I buy hay and hay prices

 Here's the "new" farm truck with a load of bales on it.  The hay on the flatbed weighs about 2 tons, and the hay in the trailer is about the same amount.  I had a crew that I hired for the day to help pick up the hay in the field and stack it at the farm.  It's very nice hay; 3rd cutting orchard grass with a little bit of clover in it.  Smells like summer. 
The other trailer we use is a gooseneck dual tandem trailer that we usually use to move the tractors from property to property.  Its rated for 25,000lbs; here its carrying 4.5 tons of hay, which really doesn't bother it at all. 

I negotiated a price per ton to purchase the hay at, and we weighed the truck&trailers empty and then full to get how much hay we were buying.  The reason I do that is that in this area, bale weights vary quite a bit, and it's often hard to compare prices.  Most of the farmers around here want to sell you at a price per bale, which really doesn't tell you much about what your cost is, since bales can range from 45lbs to 80lbs. 

You can take a small sample and weigh them, but my experience has been with the local hay is that the bale sizes can vary in an individual field, and so I don't trust that, either.  The best way I've found is to negotiate a price per pound and weigh the entire load. 

In this case I purchased the entire field of hay, which ended up weighing 35,500lbs, or 17.75tons.  The negotiated price was 8 cents per pound, which gave me a cost-per-ton of $160, which is in line with hay prices this year.   Including labor and transport, the 80lb bales cost me about $7 each delivered and stacked. 

What prices are you guys paying for hay? 


Alaska Bound said...

HaHaHa.. 80 lb bails here in Alaska cost us $20 each last year.. man how nice to only pay $8. We figure $350 a ton ish..

Johnson said...

Here in upstate NY it's rarely more than $3/square bale. I buy 800# round bales for $30, so $75/ton.

Bruce King said...

I can buy "local grass hay" for $3-4/bale in the field, but the quality of that hay varies quite a bit. Some of it is ok, but none of it is as good as this stuff is.

It's the same basic idea as buying cheap feed. Sure, it's cheaper by the pound,but you end up using more pounds to feed your animals. Good hay, good feed, costs money.

When you talk about 800lb bales, I'd suggest you weigh a few of them. Dry hay just doesn't weigh that much in 4' bales -- it does in 5' bales, or if it's wet.

4' round bales are $40 here -- but they weigh 600lbs or so.

So look carefully, and know what you're buying. I've found a scale to be a useful way to make sure I get what I'm paying for -- and the farmer knows I'm paying for what I get. Fair both ways.

Farmer Falster (Karl Emmett) said...

Last year we went through what the state climatologist said was the 100 year drought, and I understand many surrounding states are have a time of it this year.

I've got a real fine crop of hay stacked up, burmuda and clover mix. I'm very thankful for the change.