A healthy supply has kept retail horse-hay prices in Texas steady in recent months, says Mitch Waters, of Master Made Feeds, Inc., Grapevine.

For 50- to 65-lb small squares of coastal bermudagrass, he’s currently paying around $9/bale wholesale. His price in the two feed stores he manages in the Dallas area ranges from $12 to $14/bale. “It depends on quality and the quantity they’re buying.”

Most of what Waters is selling is second- and third-cutting hay produced in the eastern and central parts of the state.

“In the drought years of 2011 and 2012, we were paying $10-12/bale. The big difference last year was that, while yields were still only about 50% of normal, a lot of people were at least able to get three cuttings.”

As a result, there’s enough hay in the area to keep prices steady through the late-May or early June start of this year’s harvest, he says.

“There are still (hay growers) with hay in the barn. This time of year, they’re just starting to let go of it. They want to liquidate before the new crop comes on. It’s not like the last couple of years where we got into March and April and were wondering whether we were going to run out of hay.”

Prospects for another dry production year in the region are a concern. “It was better last year, but we still don’t have an abundance of moisture. The water levels in some lakes are extremely low, and some cities are already talking about water restrictions.”

The long-term decline in area horse numbers continues to be worrisome as well. “The horse market here is down 30-40% from what it was in 2009 and 2010, and it just isn’t rebounding. That definitely cuts into hay sales.”

To contact Waters, call 817-481-2321 or email feedanimals@msn.com.

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