News last update:6 Aug 2012

Price of hay driven by horse farmers

Hay auctions in Michigan USA are dominated by horse owners, who drive hay prices.

A tight supply last year and drought across Michigan and much of the eastern United States pushed hay prices to winter levels by September. Dale Heselschwerdt, senior owner of the Napoleon Livestock Commission, said competition for hay is intense. His Monday hay auctions last year averaged 1,123 bales of hay at an average $2.79 a bale. Average sales this year dropped to 834 bales and increased to an average $4.04, he said.

Hay storage
Hay prices generally peak in late winter, when demand is highest and the supply is low. Farmers with hay are storing most of it now, expecting at least another buck a bale in early 2008.

Most hay buyers 20 years ago were beef and dairy farmers, Heselschwerdt said. Hay auctions now are dominated by horse owners, who drive hay prices. A family with one or a couple of horses is willing to pay more for feed, while working livestock farms must produce most of their own feed to turn a profit.

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