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Since hay is not traded on an orderly market system, as are many other agricultural commodities, establishing a price, especially for standing hay, is a challenge. Consequently, the hay buyer, seller, or broker must take a more active role in determining price trends in the marketplace.

For local markets, the simplest way to determine the price of standing hay is to sum the costs of cutting and baling and subtract it from the baled hay price. 

At times, the sales agreement will also include a risk deduction of five to 15 percent.

Cost of cutting and bailing hay

The cost of cutting and baling hay depends on yield of the hay as well as the equipment being used.

Typically costs are:

  • Between $30.00 to $35.00 / ton ($34.00 to $39.00 / tonne) to cut and bale hay.
    • Actual cost can vary depending on a broad range of factors.

Price discovery for hay is accomplished by surveying market conditions locally and regionally, as well as distant markets.

Local market prices

Local market information can be obtained by:

  • sales information from neighbours,
  • local hay auction results,
  • purchases by local livestock sales facilities and feedlots; and
  • asking prices for hay advertised for sale in the local press.

Marketing low-quality hay locally often makes sense, as excessive freight costs rapidly consume the narrow profit margins on such feed.

Regional prices

Regional price information can be obtained by checking:

  • Farm newspapers for "hay wanted/for sale" ads; 
  • Purchase prices at area forage processing plants purchasing dry hay;
  • Hay auction results; and 
  • The Forage and Feed and Custom Services listing.

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