Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rising Feed Costs

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.


  1. Feed prices are incredible aren't they?! Alfalfa down here is $20-$22 a bale and layer pellets have gone up $1.50 a bag in the last two months. I'm going to start looking at "mixing" my own feed for them...and I'm so glad I bought enough alfalfa to last the year during the summer when it was only $16 a bale!


  2. This is the first year I haven't put bales of hay around the house for added insulation, the prices were ridiculous. Lucky for me it's only the 2 dogs that I need to plan ahead, city living makes it a little hard to have even a small working farm.

    If I don't get the chance to swing by this weekend, I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas.

  3. We use garden leftovers for our chickens as much as possible and probably be looking for other sources of animal feed.

  4. Max, you have a very Merry Christmas! If you swing by please feed the animals. We will be in Southern California!

  5. Glad we live in the US. It's illegal to feed your chickens garden and kitchen leftovers in all European Union countries. The Animal By-Products Regulation (EC) No. 1774/2002 prohibits catering waste from being fed to farmed animals. This applies in all EU member states and applied from 1 May 2003. What is catering waste? All food scraps or leftovers or food waste from restaurants or your own home!!!

  6. Sorry it took so long to comment. I needed find out what he is selling his hay for. I really wish you were on this side of the country ( VA ). I'd have been glad to hook you up....

    He had three cuts this year. For the regular size square bale, multi-grass non-alfalfa, he has been selling them for $3/bale. Now, 4 hrs away from here they are going for $8 to $9.

  7. Wow! That's almost worth the shipping costs of getting it to the west coast! Not really, but it's amazing the differences in price. But like any disaster, often it's very localized and while that area may be suffering greatly the rest of our country just goes on like nothing is happening...because it isn't.

  8. Here, the price of hay is $10 bale (I am in south TX). Fortunately, for us a hay farmer share crops some of our land in another town about 15 miles away, and we receive 120 bales a year in payment. I am sure if we didn't get free hay, we wouldn't have as much livestock as we do. We are very frugal with our hay and feed purchases. I have 50 chickens, and we use a 50 lb bag of scratch a month. They free range for the majority of their food. Yep, prices are definitely going up. Can't afford to buy food, can't afford to raise. I guess we are supposed to live on air and love ;-)