It’s been “a real roller-coaster ride” for hay prices in recent months at the Equity Cooperative Livestock Association’s weekly auctions in Lomira, WI, reports auction manager Kevin Johnson.

“We’d see insanely high prices one week,” he says. “Then prices would taper off for a few weeks, probably because buyers were thinking they were paying way too much. Then it would go right back up again.”

At the top of the market in midsummer, one load of second-crop, high-quality dairy alfalfa hay, packaged in large square bales and weighing approximately 800 lbs, sold for $180/bale – about $450/ton.

In recent weeks, prices appear to have stabilized. “Now only the real sharp hay is bringing over $100/bale (roughly $250/ton),” says Johnson.

Small square bales of grass and alfalfa hay have been bringing $4.50-5.25/bale. Prices across the board are about “double-plus” what they were a year ago, Johnson says. “Even poorer-quality hay, both large rounds and large squares, has been bringing around $70-80/bale. A year ago, you could have had that same hay for $20-25/bale.”

The prices were also based on fairly good volume. “We’ve been getting 20-25 loads per sale through here this summer. Most of it has come from within a 100-mile radius of the auction. We usually don’t see that kind of activity until December or January. We’ve sold more hay this summer than we did all of last year. But I’m sure that we’ll be selling less hay this winter.”

Because of that, Johnson expects prices to remain high. “Everybody seems to be a little short. A lot of hay that was made has already been sold. People sold it while they baled it. And why not? Why would you put it away when you could get that real good money right out of the field?”

The weekly hay auction at Lomira is held year-round on Fridays. Sales begin at noon. For more information, contact Johnson at 608-434-4023 or kjohnson@equitycoop.com.