Farmers forking over less for hay this year

By: Amy Lipman Email
By: Amy Lipman Email

MESA COUNTY, Colo. Hay prices were pinching farmers' pockets the past two years, but they're seeing some relief.

"They're eating about a bale a day of hay, so to get through the winters, it makes winters long and drilling if you're paying high prices for hay," said Joseph Burtard, owner of JR's Carriage Service.

Hay costs $8 a bale right now compared to $15-$18 in 2013.

Farmers didn't expect this drop after the drought, wildfires and flooding Colorado experienced this past year, so some decided to buy hay in bulk before the winter.

"A lot of us kind of anticipated that hay prices would skyrocket like they did in 2012," Burtard said.

Although Burtard said the current prices aren't considered "low," they're better than they were the past two years, especially since hay isn't something farmers can really cut back on.

"Hay is definitely one of my highest overheads in owning horses," he said. "It's important that you keep the horses healthy, so know it's not necessarily that you can cut back on what you're feeding them."

Burtard said he's hoping this year's extra snowpack levels, which are at 127% as of Thursday, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, will help the price of hay continue to drop.

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