Slow recovery in the general economy has led to a drop in demand for horse hay in parts of North Carolina, reports Derek Teague, Catawba.

“We’ve lost three or four of our horse customers in the last year or so,” says Teague. “When people lose their jobs or money gets tight, it seems like one of the first things they do is sell their horses.”

Teague makes 4 x 5’ round bales of fescue hay on 175 acres. He feeds most of his annual production to his 150-cow beef herd and sells about 25% to the local pleasure-horse market.

At the start of the growing season, he thought about raising prices to offset rising input costs. But with plentiful rains and higher overall yields in his area, he opted to postpone increases.

Teague has priced his hay at $25-40/roll at the barn depending on quality. Rolls weigh around 750 lbs. “People haven’t been calling much for hay, yet,” he says. “The fall weather has been pretty good here, so horse owners still have grass in their pastures.”

Even so, he believes a market uptick is possible in the months ahead. “The weather forecasters are telling us we could be in for a tough winter. If that turns out to be the case, prices could pick up, especially for the better-quality hay. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Next year, Teague is planning to grow 20 acres of alfalfa for the first time. “It seems like there could be a pretty good market for it in this area,” he says. “And we figure we could gross somewhere around $1,000/acre. That’s better than we can do with any other crop here.”

To contact Teague, call 828-446-6111 or email

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