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…