Horse hay sales have been sluggish in northeastern Arkansas through most of the winter and early spring, reports Steven Hill of Hill Hay Farms, Inc., near Paragould.

“We had a wet growing season in our area last year,” says Hill, who, along with his father, Ronnie, puts up bermudagrass hay on 800 irrigated and dryland acres. “There was a lot more hay produced. Normally, this time of year, our inventory would be pretty low. But we still have about 50,000 square bales in the barn.”

In a typical year, the Hills put up around 180,000 small squares weighing 50-55 lbs each. They sell the lion’s share of their hay to the horse market, including racetracks, feed stores and individual horse owners within 600 miles of the farm. They also contract with neighbors and put up 120,000 bales of wheat straw annually. Most of their straw is sold to the horse market as well.

Hill expects to be able to move most of his current hay inventory before new crop comes on in early June. “We had a pretty tough winter here, so people were feeding up a lot of hay. And we’ve had a cold, wet spring, so the grass has been a little slow in coming on. We’ve been making a few phone calls and there is interest. I don’t know if we’ll sell out, but it will be close.”

Area prices have dropped off by $30-50/ton from those of a year ago. He puts the current small-square-bale price at around $200-220/ton, depending on quality.

Prices should stay steady over the next several months, he expects. “I don’t see them going up or down very much right now. But a lot depends on what we get for weather. If Texas continues to miss out on rain and/or a drought develops here, that could help improve prices.”

To contact Hill, call 870-215-2000 or email hillhayfarms@yahoo.com.