How Much Does a Bale Of Hay Cost?

As an animal keeper, feeding your cattle is one of your primary responsibilities. Lest you want to see your goats, cows, or horses grow thin.

That’s when those round or cube bales of hay come into play. The said animal feed is a ubiquitous presence in farms all over the US. It’s always there, as you have to supply the dried grass to its consumers every day.

As an animal keeper, feeding your cattle is one of your primary responsibilities. Lest you want to see your goats, cows, or horses grow thin.

Tractor dropping hay

Ever wondered how much farmers spend a year just by feeding their cattle? Find out first how much does a bale of hay cost!

Rolled bail of hair

Average Bale Of Hay Cost

According to recent USDA data, you can get a bale of hay for around $33 to $290 per ton. This is given that you are not paying for the product’s delivery.

To know the exact quote, you need to consider the following:

  • Variety and grade
  • Location

According to Stable Management, the Alfalfa is the largest hay crop in the market. It is widely used by farmers, though some also use grass hays. The first variety is more expensive. The grade of the specific crop will also affect the price.

Where you plan to buy the feeds will also determine the exact price. You can either order them from a feed store, online store, or local retailers.

Note also that the price will be affected by the weather. Generally, hay will be more expensive in locations that are experiencing drought.

Sample Horse Hay Prices

Here are data from USDA regarding horse hay prices (alfalfa and grass) in different states:

Alfalfa

  1. California
  • Premium+: $160-260 (delivered)
  • Good: $140-160
  • Fair: $150
  1. Idaho
  • Premium+: $150-200
  • Good: $100
  • Fair: $90
  1. Kansas
  • Premium+: $130-200
  • Good: $110-140
  • Fair: $70-95
  1. Montana
  • Premium+: $200
  • Good: $105-150
  • Fair: $90-120
  1. South Dakota
  • Premium+: $140-150
  • Good: $73-135
  • Fair: $68-125
  1. Utah
  • Premium+: $80-160
  • Good: $70-93
  • Fair: $55-80
  1. Wisconsin
  • Premium+: $220
  • Good: $65-160
  • Fair: $40-113

Grass hay

  1. California
  • Premium+: $180-240
  • Good: $120
  • Fair: N/A
  1. Iowa
  • Premium+: $105-120
  • Good: $80-95
  • Fair: $60-78
  1. Kansas
  • Premium+: $130-135
  • Good: $55-120
  • Fair: $55-65
  1. Montana
  • Premium+: $120-240
  • Good: $110-120
  • Fair: $100
  1. South Dakota
  • Premium+: $100
  • Good: $73-83
  • Fair: $55-68
  1. Texas
  • Premium+: $100-265
  • Good: $80-231
  • Fair: $40-165
  1. Washington
  • Premium+: $230-240
  • Good: N/A
  • Fair: N/A

For updated prices, you may check reports from the USDA Marketing website. Typically, they release the data on a weekly basis.

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Store And Online Quotes

What changes if you’re buying from a feed store or online? Some companies provided prices through their website. These sample costs, however, do not equate to the exact amount you’d have to spend on the feeds. Nevertheless, the list will give you a rough idea.

  • Dayville Hay and Grain, Inc.
  • Alfalfa 2nd cutting, 3-tie: $20.30 per bale
  • Alfalfa 3rd cutting, 3-tie: $21 per bale
  • Alfalfa 4th cutting, 3-tie: $18.65 per bale
  • Premium Compressed Grab and Go (alfalfa): $17.25 per bale
  • Orchard Grass 1st cutting, 2-tie: $15.05 per bale
  • Orchard Grass 1st cutting, 3-tie: $18.65 per bale
  • Orchard Grass 2nd cutting, 2-tie: $19 per bale
  • Timothy 2nd cutting, 3-tie: $21.60 per bale
  • Grass/Alfalfa Mix 2nd cutting, 3-tie: $20.40 per bale
  • Straw 3-tie: $11.50 per bale
  • Straw 2-tie (weed free): $10.95 per bale
  • Compressed Straw: $11.95 per bale
  • Wilco Farm Stores
  • Alfalfa Hay, 2-tie: $16.99
  • Standlee Premium Alfalfa Timothy Cubes (40 lb.): $15.99
  • Orchard Grass Hay Bale, 2-tie, compressed: $16.99
  • Triple Crown Nutrition Premium Quality Forage Timothy Cubes (50 lb.): $21.99
  • Standlee Alfalfa Cubes (40 lb.): $13.99
  • Purina Hydration Horse Hay Block (6-pack): $14.99
  • Ontario Dehy Timothy Balance Cubes (50 lb.): $29.99

Most feed stores and retailers will ask you to contact them directly for the horse hay prices.

Computing Costs

To compute the expense of feeding the horses, you need to know that an adult horse typically consumes 25 pounds of hay daily. Feeding one, hence, equates to 9,125 pounds or 4.6 tons a year. If you have 2 horses, that will be 9.2 tons a year. And so on.

If you’re ordering bales of hay, you need to inquire how much each bale weighs to be able to compare prices. For instance:

Price per ton = 2,000 lb. (equivalent to 1 ton) / weight of bale X price of the bale

If you will buy a 100-pound bale of alfalfa worth $17, you will get this result:

2,000 lb. / 100 lb. = 29 lb.

29 lb. X $17 = $340

Meaning, you’d have to spend $340 for 1 ton of hay. Multiply that price to 4.6 tons and you’ll get a total expense of around $1,564 a year per horse.

Note that the above costs are only estimates. The total price you’d need to spend will depend on your choices and, of course, the number of your horses.

Tips On Buying Hay

To get the most of the money being paid, you need to learn how to choose which hay to buy. Here are some tips on selecting feeds for your horses:

  • Choose the mature hay
  • Mature hay is best for adult and overweight horses. Indicators of maturity include flowers (for legumes), seed heads (for grasses), and thick stems.
  • Consider the content of your hay
  • Your hay should be a combination of matured legumes (such as alfalfa and clover) and grass to provide the right amount of nourishment. According to Stable Management, pure alfalfa has more digestible energy and crude protein than what your horse needs. Unless you’re maintaining performance horses and broodmares, the said variety is not advisable.
  • Prefer the soft hay
  • Your horse will consume softer hay more readily compared to the coarse ones.
  • Prefer the sweet-smelling hay
  • Your horse would be willing to eat the hay if it smells good. The more it eats, the less waste on feeds. This, in turn, helps you save on costs.

Know also that the so-called “fresh-cut hay” is not always a good buy. Hays that are recently baled usually has more moisture content. It’s a waste as you will not be needing that water because it will only vaporize in time.

Always prioritize what’s good for your horse, but don’t forget to keep the costs acceptable. Good luck!