Plentiful supplies of feeder-quality hay have put downward pressure on prices in many parts of Montana in recent weeks. But the drop could have been worse, says grower Joel Flynn, of Flynn Hay & Grain near Townsend.

“It seems like there’s still enough of a shortage that even the lower-quality hay is selling at a price that covers the cost of production,” says Flynn, who, with his son, Brandon, raises alfalfa hay on 700 irrigated acres.

Most of their production goes into 4 x 4 x 8’ large square bales. But they also put up 300-400 tons of two-tie small squares annually.

This year, the Flynns sold about 30% of their large squares to beef operations within 100 miles of home and 10-15% to local dairies. The rest sold as feeder-quality hay through brokers in Washington.

“It was a pretty challenging year for making quality hay. We didn’t have big rainfall amounts. But the rains came too close together and too often. As a result, some of the hay was cut too late and some of it got bleached. None of it was very fancy.”

Most of this year’s feeder hay went for $125-135/ton, Flynn says. Last year, similar hay typically brought $20/ton more than that and some sold for as much as $160/ton.

 “We might have been able to get a little bit more for it by waiting this year. But we could see the market softening some at the end of summer. So we got busy and got it sold. There’s something to be said for the security that goes along with having it sold early.”

Their small squares sold to a feed store in Virginia for $250/ton. “It was a pretty, premium hay,” says Flynn. “It really doesn’t get much better than that.”

To contact Flynn, call 406-266-3578 or email joelflynn@mt.net.

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