Favorable late-fall weather has slowed the hay trade in many parts of Montana.

“Open grazing conditions are allowing cattlemen to keep cows turned out without the need for supplemental feeding, resulting in very little hay moving presently,” according to the Nov. 15 Weekly Montana Hay Report from USDA Market News.

The prices quoted in the report were gathered from growers in the southern tier of Montana. In other areas, “supply is plentiful as ranchers were able to put up a large supply of grass hay for their own use this year, which is causing demand to be light locally.”

That’s definitely the case at Richardson East Ranch near Peerless, in the northeastern part of the state.

“It was a very good year,” says ranch owner John Richardson. “Growing conditions were excellent. Now the challenge is finding a buyer.”

Richardson figures he put up about 2,000 more tons of alfalfa-grass hay this year than he’ll need to get his 325-cow beef herd through the winter.

He’s currently offering the hay, in 5 x 6’, net-wrapped round bales weighing 1,300-1,500 lbs, at $85/ton. He describes its quality as “fair to good.”

To get the hay moved, the ranch will take core samples and help arrange transportation. “The bales are nice and tight and should stack pretty easily,” Richardson says.

A quick check of the Montana Department of Agriculture Hay Hotline offers yet another hint of how plentiful hay supplies are throughout the state. As of earlier this week, 20 new hay-for-sale listings had been posted on the hotline this month. No hay-wanted postings have so far been posted.

To contact Richardson, call 603-340-2823 or email johnthebuildr@aol.com.

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