Supply-side pressure continues to hold prices on the high side at the weekly Cow Palace hay auction in Forest City, IA.

“Because of the droughty conditions last year, there just isn’t a lot of hay out there in this area,” says auctioneer Rex Taylor of Rex Taylor Auction Services. “Overall, our volume this year is down about 30% compared to normal. As a result, prices are as high as I’ve ever seen them.”

In recent weeks, small square bales weighing 40-50 lbs have been bringing $6.50-9.50/bale at the sale. “That’s $2-3.50/bale more than a year ago,” he says. “It really hasn’t mattered much if it’s good grass hay or straight alfalfa. People are glad to get hold of anything that is good and green.”

As an indicator of demand, Taylor notes the recent selling price of $150/bale for a load of round bales, 85% orchardgrass and 15% alfalfa and clover, weighing just under 600 lbs. “A couple guys got going on it and wouldn’t give up,” he says. “When you figure it out on a per-ton basis, that’s $510/ton. It’s pretty crazy right now.”

Prices are likely to remain strong in the months ahead, Taylor says. “Every day that goes by, we’re feeding up more of whatever hay is out there. I think you have to assume that it’s not going to get any cheaper. And it might even edge up a little higher when we get into that March-April-May period.”

The hay auction at the Cow Palace is held on Wednesdays year-round beginning at 4 p.m. For more information, contact Taylor at 641-425-2711.