An impromptu hay auction, taking shape in Ottawa County, OH, seeks to help horse owners and other hay buyers link up with local sellers.

Horse owner Jackie Kohlman, a real-estate agent in Oak Harbor, started thinking about launching the auction after attending a similar event in neighboring Sandusky County late last year.

"There are so many different kinds of hay for horse owners to consider – everything from plain grass to timothy to orchardgrass and more," she says. "The nice thing about an auction is that you can see all of the different types of hay in one place and decide what you want to bid on.

"Also, a lot of horse owners don't have storage space to justify going to a farmer and buying an entire field or even a semi load of hay at one time. Instead, they might be looking at buying 25, 30 or 45 small bales. At an auction, they can bid on a lot that has the amount of hay they need and then go back a month later and buy another lot."

Kohlman believes that local hay growers could also benefit from having nearby outlets for marketing their product. "A lot of our farmers here sell hay by the semi load to the southern part of Ohio or to neighboring states. Having an auction here would help them cut down on the expense that goes along with transporting hay long distances.

"It is also nice for the hay growers because they can reach an entire group of potential buyers in one spot. That's a lot more efficient for them than going out and contacting customers one at a time."

After discussing the idea with Chad Brough, a real-estate colleague who's also an auctioneer, Kohlman scheduled the first auction for early May at the Barnside Creamery parking lot in Oak Harbor. The event attracted 10 sellers and 15 lots of hay. "We were a little disappointed that we didn't have more buyers. But it was kind of a drizzly morning and that might have kept some people away. It was also the day that local 4-H members had to register their animals for the county fair."

She initially considered holding once-a-month auctions throughout summer. But with the wet spring slowing fieldwork, the next sale will be held in August. After that, monthly auctions through next May are planned. Along with hay, straw will be offered at the follow-up auctions. "More and more horse owners in our area are using straw for bedding," she says. "That should bring more people to the auction.

"We're pretty excited about it. We think a lot of people are going to benefit," Kohlman adds. To contact Kohlman, call 419-304-2783 or email jackiekohlman@batdorff.com.