Hay prices in Wyoming, Colorado and western Nebraska have tapered off steadily in the last four to five weeks. So reports Barry McRea, owner-manager of Valley Video Hay Markets and HayTime Auctions in Torrington, WY.

Since mid-December, the price of dairy-quality alfalfa hay has dropped from around $200/ton to $175. The feeder-hay price has also slipped – from $160 to $130/ton with some instances of $120/ton – over the same period.

Slack demand is a key factor, McRea says. “I’ve never seen demand lower. Part of it is that we haven’t had a severe winter here so far. As a result, people haven’t had to feed a lot of hay.”

“And they’re not building inventories. If they run short on hay, they figure they can make a few phone calls and get all they need delivered in a day or two. And because there’s so much hay around, they can get it at a pretty favorable price.”

The high hay prices of recent years may also be playing a role. Feedlots in McRea’s region were paying $250-260/ton for feeder hay the previous January due to an extreme supply shortage brought on by the 2012 drought. In response, feedlots found other, cheaper ration ingredients, such as cornstalks and straw. “Now, even though alfalfa is cheaper again, they’d just as soon stick with those other feeds. They don’t seem to have any interest in returning to alfalfa,” McRea says.

Valley Video’s next online hay auction is Jan. 29, beginning 6 a.m., MST. Lot bidding will start to close at 2 p.m. the next day, at two-minute intervals with five-minute extensions on active lots. The next sale will be Feb. 19-20. Bidding will be conducted at www.maddenauctions.com. For descriptions of hay lots be offered, visit the Valley Video website.

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