A repository or “depot” for hay is John Strohfus’ latest brainstorm that could help Twin Cities-area small livestock operations and horse owners find reasonably priced feed.

Strohfus, a Hastings, MN, farmer with a horse boarding facility, last year set up a successful Facebook group page, Twin Cities Hay Exchange. Its goal was make it easier for area buyers and sellers to connect, and more than 750 have become active members in eight months. (See “Group Approach Links Hay Sellers, Customers.”)

Now Strohfus is on to a new mission to help horse and livestock owners who can’t afford to buy hay by the semi-load. “ A lot of times, the transportation costs are prohibitive for someone in a smaller operation,” he says.

At the same time, hay sellers are reluctant to split delivery among a number of buyers. “If they have to make several stops to deliver a complete load, it becomes a pain for the seller to coordinate things with the trucking company.”

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His proposed solution – a hay depot – would allow sellers to deliver hay to his farm and have it unloaded and stored, under cover, for seven to 14 days.

“The whole idea is to give the seller’s customers a little more flexibility on when they pick up the hay,” Strohfus says. “We’d load them up and ensure that they only take what is on contract with the seller. This would give the seller the ability to market his hay to four to five customers on one load but without all the stops and same-day logistics coordination.”

For buyers within 50 miles of his farm, Strohfus would be willing to make deliveries. “We’d charge the standard mileage rate and could even bring our skid loader and stack the bales for them. Most people can feed large squares by hand. It’s the initial unloading and placement that many smaller buyers are not equipped for.”

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He grows and buys hay for resale, but says the hay depot would be an entirely separate entity. “The seller would still find the buyers, set the price, provide contracts and so on. And I won’t have any risk that a customer might refuse to accept the hay because of its quality once it gets here. That’s strictly between the buyer and the seller. The hay is paid for before it ever lands on my farm.”

For the service, Strohfus plans to charge a 10% commission fee on the sale price of each load. “That would be for providing the storage, doing the unloading and re-loading and arranging the drop-off and pick-up schedules,” he says. “It’s about the same as an auction service would get for doing a simple re-sell transaction.”

Strohfus wants to know what people think of the idea and if they would be interested in the service. Email him at john@strohfusstockfarm.com.

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