I've mentioned before that my sheep are being fed leaves from the mulberry trees and any other leaves that drop on the ground. They have some pasture grasses left to eat but if I was one of the sheep I'd not be very happy with the quality of food. Of course they'd prefer hay. And not just any hay...alfalfa. Last summer hay was going for under $9.00 a bale for alfalfa. Oat was cheaper and grass hay couldn't hardly be given away. Not this year.
Around here grass hay is going for $18. a bale, oat for $19 or $20 and alfalfa has been priced up to $22 per bale. That's 100-120 pounds of hay for $22! The sheep can eat leaves.
On Friday I had just pulled out of my driveway and had only gone about 1/4 mile or so when what was all over the road? A bale of hay that had fallen off someone's truck. It split open and was mostly on the side of the road covering an area about 25 feet in length. I pulled the truck to the side of the road and loaded the hay into the back of my pickup. I drove back home, dumped it into five wheelbarrow loads and put it into the barn. My sheep are very happy.
I needed some more food for the chickens. I called around to Tractor Supply and four local feed stores asking for the prices of hen scratch and layer pellets. One feed store beat all the rest by over a dollar per 50 pound bag. I drove to that store and picked up 7 bags of layer pellets and three of hen scratch.
I also saw they had recleaned wheat for $11 for 50 pounds. That's 22 cents per pound for wheat. At the grocery store it's 56 cents a pound. I bought a 50 pound sack for us. Now that I have the wheat grinder up and running it's easy to make whole wheat flour. Grinding it myself at this price is about 1/4 the price of buying it in the grocery store already ground. And mine's fresher.
I asked the person at the feed store why the hay prices are up so high. I was surprised by the response. Part of the reason is the drought in Texas, so a lot of hay is getting sent to Texas. That makes sense. But that's not the entire reason. She said that the farmers have exported a lot of the hay out of the country leaving not as much for us. Even this isn't the entire reason the prices are up. She said that a lot of the farmers are holding on to the hay. They are expecting the hay prices to rise even higher and plan on selling it to the hay brokers at that time. She said prices may go as high as $30 a bale!!!
I'm expecting a lot of animals to get put up for sale this winter due to the high prices. Either that or they will get sold for meat, which may lower the prices of meat. It might be a good time to pick up a couple of goats. I just hope they enjoy eating mulberry leaves. They aren't getting $20 a bale hay.