The price of dairy-quality alfalfa hay remains strong in one of South Dakota’s prime growing regions, reports Amy Freeburg of Freeburg Hay Farms, Gayville. Currently, she says, good dairy hay is bringing $200-300/ton at the farm.

“Across the board, it’s up about $50/ton from where it was a year ago.”

Freeburg and her husband, Gary, grow alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay on 2,500 acres. They market most of their product in 3 x 4 x 8’ bales to dairies in the northern tier of states ranging from South Dakota to Pennsylvania. They also sell to horse owners, dairy-goat operations and zoos.

The national production shortfall goes a long way in explaining current price strength, says Freeburg. “There just wasn’t the production out there this year. In our area, it started last fall. We lost a lot of hay acres because it was so wet. Then, this year, we had the drought. Put the two things together, and you have a perfect storm for not having a large amount of hay to sell.”

Even so, she believes current price levels may represent a market top. “I don’t think the price can go much higher. When it gets to a certain point, dairy producers start looking at other feedstuffs to supplement their rations.

“We’ve already seen a lot of producers in our area putting up more corn silage than they normally would because it was so dry and they didn’t get a lot of kernels on their corn. It may not be what they’d prefer to feed, but they’ll do whatever it takes to bring those ration costs down.”

To contact the Freeburgs, call 605-267-4426 or email freeburghay@iw.net.