Today I am going out on a limb, I know and I hope I cause some reactions to readers.  I am going to advocate for higher hay prices! YES I SAID IT!  Horse hay, such as orchard and bluegrass needs to sell at $170+.Before you all comment furiously about how feeding those horses in your back pasture costs too much already, and how that hay growers must be making a killing if you are forking out $6-$7 per bale, read on.

Before I begin, I want to make sure that you readers know that this article is meant for the small horse hay buyers that buy 1-40 tons.  This is not directed to the large cattle ranchers or brokers that buy hundreds of tons a year.  But when small horse hay buyers expect rock bottom prices for just a few tons, its just unreasonable.

Hay right now is running about $150-$170 per ton for orchard grass in central Oregon, which is up from about $120ish earlier this spring.  Savvy hay buyers know that hay prices always rise in the fall, so they stock up in the summer when prices are down and hay is plentiful, and then everyone rushing to buy hay in the fall see higher prices as hay stocks go down and barns empty out.  If you are looking for a bargain, go hay shopping in July when first cutting is in and the barns are full.

It always amazes me when people try to barter me down on my price in the fall.  First of all,  the buyer should have very little leveraging power, unless it’s a really slow year.  Hay costs lots of money and labor to grow, and growers need a good price in order to stay profitable.  Often the margin is very small, as in $5-$10 per ton.  When the grower has 1000 tons, that margin can mean a good year or a bunch of red numbers in the books.  When you roll up with your horse trailer to the hay shed looking for 5 tons, you got to recognize and respect that and don’t expect the grower to lower his price to save you a few bucks.

Local growers catering to the horse industry in Central Oregon have to go to great efforts to grow the hay that meets the quality standards, they need to get a good price for their crop to stay in business.  Lets support our local hay growers and ensure quality horse hay will be grown here for years to come.