The retail price of top-quality horse hay in northern New England is up 10-15% compared to that of a year ago, says Curt Jacques, co-owner (along with his wife, Sharon) of West Lebanon Feed and Supply in West Lebanon, NH. Currently, the Jacques are selling bales of first-cutting grass hay packaged in small square bales for $4-6/bale. Round bales are bringing $40-60/bale.
The price hike is mostly due to the better-quality hay produced in his area this year, Jacques says. "We had a unique growing year here. Usually, hay growers don't get going on first cutting until mid-June. But this year they were already cutting by the second or third week of May. As a result, both the quality and quantity of that first cutting were very good. For pleasure horses, the nutritional value of that first cutting was just about perfect."
Supplies could tighten over the next two months as the winter feeding season begins in earnest, he thinks. Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which hit the region in late summer, kept many growers from getting their second crop into storage in a timely fashion. "A lot of round bales that were sitting out in the fields when the storms came got really soaked," he says. "A lot of that hay is still out there.
"Right now, it hasn't had that much affect on the hay price because there's still some pasture in many places. The real test will come in January and February. By then, people will have fed up most of the short supplies they have in the barn now. Overall, though, I don't think the supply situation is anywhere near as critical as it was a couple of years ago."
To contact Jacques, call 603-298-8600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.