Don’t look for hay prices to fall off from currently high levels anytime soon, say analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) in Fort Collins, CO.

Prices “usually uptick” in the winter months, but finding hay this year will likely be much more difficult than it was last year, they reported in early November.

“Not only has the drought had a much larger impact area, but winter weather conditions last year were very mild, so hay disappearance was much smaller in 2011 than normal. National hay stocks are expected to be very low in the spring, and could be the smallest ever.”

New Mexico had the highest average hay price among the 27 reporting states for the first 10 months of 2012, according to USDA’s Agricultural Prices, from which the analysts report. Nebraska saw the highest year-to-year increase – 70% – for the same time period.

North Dakota had the lowest average price, $90/ton, during the first 10 months of the year. But prices there were still up by 43% over year-earlier levels. New York registered the smallest percentage increase, up 2%, followed by Idaho, up 3%.