High Hay Prices in Arizona, WHY?

Update: March 31, 2012,  Alfalfa has gone UP to $19.00 a bale in Phoenix.
Update: June 2012, Bermuda has gone DOWN, $16.99 a bale.
Update: June 2012, Alfalfa has gone DOWN, $16.99 a bale.

 Here in Arizona, the soaring price of alfalfa and grass hay is causing great concern among horse owners across the state. A three wire bale of alfalfa is now $14.75, Bermuda, $14.99, and Timothy a whopping $20.00.

Arizona hay farms boast the highest hay productivity per acre at 8.3 tons compared to 3.4 tons nationally. Our annual hay crop is over 40 million bales, and Arizona horse owners in 2012 are expected to need approximately 15 million. Of that hay, not all is suitable for horses, the first and last of about nine cuttings per season go to dairy cows. Dairies and brokers pay in advance, which includes California, the number one hay producer in the United States. With about 1.8 million dairy cows, California had to import 960,000 tons of hay to meet its demand. ??

A national agriculture report shows Arizona hay production has dropped 11% since 2010 due to less acreage.  We have 185,000 dairy cows, 1 million cattle and calves, and Arizona range is only at 65 % due to fire and drought. Which means hay is in greater demand by ranchers trying to maintain their herds. All this explains why retail horse hay was hard to find late in the spring of 2011. Some hay distributors actually feared having none at all. The hay I bought for my own horses [at a premium price] was such poor quality I ended up pitching much of it into the trash.

Considering the 11% drop of hay production in Arizona combined with higher demand, only means one of two things. We are either going to run out of horse hay by spring of 2012, or prices are going to jump even higher. So I have one question, why is 30% [over a 1 million tons] of alfalfa hay exported over seas from the United States every year?

So should we cut the herd to lower our feed bills? Great idea, just don’t hold your breath waiting for a buyer…

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16 Responses to High Hay Prices in Arizona, WHY?

  1. Todd says:

    I have a few hundred acres that hasn’t been farmed for 10 years that I own. It used to be a good alfalfa and vegtable farm. I am not a farmer, where could I find good information on costs for planting alfalfa? Appreciate being pointed in the right direction.

    • tbnranch says:

      Hmmm… You’ve touched on something I know little about. My advice to you is to lease that land out to a grower, leave the work and know how to somebody else and pocket the profit. Is there a profit? That is something you will have to research wisely.

  2. Wow! I bought 8 tons of good grass hay last fall for $200 per ton and then 4 ton of grass/alfalfa mix for $180 per ton…not sure what alfalfa is right now today but it was cheaper last fall than the good grass horse hay….which surprised me. I usually feed pretty much good grass horse hay…my bales were all around 90-100 pounds…our grass hay was up due to hay farmers loosing the first cutting due to a cold wet May and June last year….half of July was that way too….not sure how it will go this year….Eastern Oregon used to be much drier and not at all like Western Oregon where they get tons of rain…this last couple of years we are much more wet here and blah type weather. Today it is blah and gray with lots of rain….have had solid rain for a week now.

  3. Sheldon says:

    We are currently hauling hay into Canyon texas area for $335.00/ton delivered out of Saskatchewan Canada in two string little squares. That equates to 840 little square bales per 53 ft. Flat trailer, in theory works out to $8.62/ per bale delivered. The bales are accumulated into 21 bale bundles and are a good grass/alfalfa mix or straight first cut alfalfa.

    • Peter says:

      Do you know if they also sell Timothey/orchard grass mix hay. i am looking for a half load (420) of the small bales.

  4. Amber says:

    I just paid $16 a bale here in TX for our Timothy equivalent. And I only bought square bales because it is now impossible to
    Find round bales of that hay where we live. The last that I did buy was $175 for a 400-500 lb bale.
    Looks like we might even be out of the square bales soon.
    We’re dying down here. This draught is really taking its toll…

    • tbnranch says:

      Haven’t run into a lack of hay supply here in Arizona, it’s just spendy. Two weeks ago it was still $18.00 for a bale of alfalfa, I’m worried that when I go next month it will be even higher. 😦

  5. Cindy says:

    Hay here in MO is about 3.50 a bale for nice alfalfa if you look around, but some in the city pay 6 to 10 dollars a bale for it. I think they get what they can for it if the buyers keep paying it.

    • tbnranch says:

      I wonder why hay isn’t being trucked in from the midwest to help the southwest. If it already is, seems like $18.for alfalfa & $22+ for timothy is higher than it needs to be.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wow-it’s $3.00 for good quality grass in NY

  7. I can deliver Timothy/orchard to Tucson for $16.00 per small squares on a semi (526 bales)


  8. Good reading – we just paid $18. for #1 alfalfa. “…why is 30% [over a 1 million tons] of alfalfa hay exported over seas from the United States every year?” I would love to know the answer to that.

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