After taking a slight dip earlier in the year, hay prices have been coming on strong in recent weeks at Tim Slack Auction & Realty, LLC, Fennimore, WI.

“Prices were a little soft at the end of January and early February,” reports Leo “Junior” Straka, hay sales manager at the weekly auction. “I think it was mostly because a lot of people were paying their real-estate taxes. Since then, though, they’ve really come back. For the last couple of sales, prices have been up by $10-20/ton each week.”

Dairy-quality alfalfa prices have been especially strong, says Straka. At the Feb. 15 auction, two loads of large square alfalfa bales sold for $350/ton. “Overall, alfalfa with an RFV of 130 or higher and crude protein of 20%, with a nice green color, has been bringing at least $300/ton in recent weeks. That’s about $100-125 higher than last year.”

Grass-hay prices have also been strong. Good-quality large rounds have been fetching $200-250/ton, double the price of a year ago. CRP grass, in large rounds, has been bringing an average of $150-200/ton. “If it’s good clean CRP, it will bring $210-215,” says Straka.

Even lower-quality grass hay is bringing $80-100/ton. “A lot of guys have been cleaning out their fencerows and hauling it in. We’ve seen some pretty rough-looking hay coming through, but it still sells.”

While the majority of the hay sold at the auction is locally produced, several loads of alfalfa large squares have been offered out of Manitoba in recent weeks. “This is the first year we’ve had Canadian hay here,” he says.

Area supplies continue to dwindle, says Straka, who also runs his own hay-hauling business. “A lot of the clients I haul for tell me they’re down to their last three or four loads.”

Even so, he doesn’t expect prices to move much higher. “It’s to the point where a lot of (livestock producers) just can’t afford to pay any more. I don’t know how they’re doing it now.”

The year-round Fennimore auction is held on Fridays, starting at noon, at Croft’s Quarry, 13009 Roger Hollow Road. Sellers who would like to include test-result information with their offerings should deliver their hay to the auction site on Monday or Tuesday, he warns.

For more information, contact Straka at 608-642-2802 or Tim Slack at 608-988-6464. To see results from recent sales, visit the auction website.