Dairy-quality hay is in really short supply throughout the U.S., says Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin extension forage specialist. "Thirty states have reported a drought this year, and corn acreage was up, meaning good hay is hard to find in some areas," he states. "It seems there is some hay available in the Winnepeg, Manitoba area in Canada, and Nebraska, Colorado and Idaho all have some hay available. But much of that hay has been drawn into other areas, such as the California market." Undersander says USDA-reported hay prices seem to be a bit low in areas. "USDA is reporting around $100/ton for alfalfa, and I would say we are seeing closer to $150/ton," he notes. "Horse hay is astronomical in many parts of the country. Even lower-quality round bales that would normally sell for around $15 are selling for $60 to $80. If it's a mild winter, hay availability will be less of an issue. But if it is cold, we could see a bigger problem."

People are looking for ways to stretch their hay supplies, such as watching feed efficiency, using distillers grains and trying other alternative feedstuffs, he adds.

Contact Undersander at 608-263-5070, or email djunders@wisc.edu.