How Much Does a Bale of Hay Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 15, 2018

For those who have a farm, a bale of hay is more than likely necessary.  A bale of hay is also used for many other purposes such as keeping grass seed in tact, food for animals and so much more.  There are going to be so many various factors when it comes down to a bail of hay such as the weight, the type of hay, where you purchase it and more.

Heuröllkes by stanzebla, on Flickr
Heuröllkes” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  stanzebla

How much does a bale of hay cost?

The average square hay bale is going to range anywhere from $3 to $10 per bale.  The most common bails include round and square, and the costs will depend on the geographical location, the seller, type and time of year.   When buying, you will either purchase by the bale or by the ton.

Keep in mind that many farmers claim that they sell the bale by the “pound” rather than by the bale.  On average, the typical bale that ranges anywhere from $3 to $10 will weigh around 50 pounds.

If purchasing by the ton, which is common among many horse owners and farmers, the costs can be as little as $90 to more than $200.  This will all depend on the time of the season.

UWEX keeps up with the weekly hay market demand, as well as what the price report is for the upper Midwest area.  In March of 2011, for example, a small square of prime hay was $179 on average, a small grade 1 hay bale is $90 per ton, and a small grade 2 hay bale averaged $62 per ton.

HayForSale.net, an online classified website, list hay for sale ads across the country in states such as Florida and Montana.  This can give you a good idea on how much a bale could cost in your local area.

Bale TypePrice
Smaller Square Bales (with no alfalfa)$5
Smaller Square Bales (with alfalfa)$6
Big Rounds$40
Per Ton (no alfalfa)$100
Per Ton (alfalfa)$135

Factors that affect the price:

Geographical location

The location is going to play a heavy influence on the price of hay.  A rural location is going to be a lot cheaper compared to a professional hay-producing company.  Many farmers and customers find luck with farmers that are just looking to get rid of additional bales they don’t need anymore.

Season

The time of the season is going to play a rather big role in purchasing hay bales.  It’s best to shop right before the season starts since there will be more of an inventory.  Seasons, such as the winter and the fall, can lead to a lower demand.

Quantity

The more you purchase, the more you’re going to be able to save.  For those who plan on purchasing these bales on an annual or even a monthly basis, companies are more than willing to offer a frequent “buyer” discount.

Quality

There are all sorts of bales which can have different mixes.  Common mixes may include the orchard and alfalfa grass.  Grass such as alfalfa is a big ticket to farmers, and this can change the price when purchasing.

What is going to be included in the purchase?

Most farmer will wrap the hay and prep it for the order placed.  Most will ask you to place your order ahead of time to make sure they have enough.

Most hay will be cleaned of any residue that shouldn’t be there.

A legitimate seller will also test its hay to ensure that it meets the state’s standards and complies with local laws.

Where to buy hay

Local farmers

Farm supply retailers such as Tractor Supply Plus

Some landscaping and nursery retailers

Select Home Depot and Lowe’s

Internet Hay Exchange™

A simple Google search (hay + zip code) can yield results

Over the Internet with some hay suppliers (Latech.edu shows you what to look for)

What are the extra costs?

Most farmers will request that you pick up the hay in person.  For delivery, a delivery fee may apply to your purchase.  The delivery fee will depend on how far they have to travel.

Hay with alfalfa will be more than hay without it.

Tips to know:

If you plan on feeding this hay to your animals, you will want to remember that most animals don’t eat dry hay.  For that reason, it’s important to note the moisture content.  Some farmers may know about this while others won’t.  It’s also important to note the amount of weeds within the bale.  Again, since animals won’t munch on weeds, you will want to make sure you’re getting your money worth.

How can I save money?

Check the HayExchange.com to find a farmer in your area.   Check your state, compare what’s available and call to see what the prices are.  This is the best way to get the lowest price.

Don’t always think you have to purchase hay.  Instead, consider other cost efficient options such as straw.  Straw can last longer, and it doesn’t tend to smell over time when it gets wet or old.

If you only need one bale, consider asking a farmer if they have any spares available.  Since they often sell the bales in bulk, they may be more than happy to give you some for next to nothing.


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