How Do You Find Your Hay?
I was wondering how everyone goes about finding their hay. Do you have one supplier? Do you have many? Do you buy if you see an advertisement (Craigslist, newspaper, whatever)? Do you buy straight off the field? How would a person find a supplier to buy straight off the field from and how would you approach them? Do you always go look at the hay before having it delivered? Do you buy small amounts or semi loads? Any input appreciated as we just moved to a new area and need to find a hay supplier. In the past we always knew people....now, I don't have that luxury (yet).
Welcome to the forum.
I'm afraid that the way I do it will not help you much, basically I grow it.
When I first moved here ~9 years ago, this was before Craigslist and other sites, I knocked on doors of farms in my area that had horses. They were very helpful and gave me lists of their suppliers. Many even offered me a few bails to hold me over until I got my own supply (I made sure I had a supply going before I moved my horses down).
I asked around, and spoke to various horse people and farmers. Looked at a lot of bales.
Found a terrific guy quite close that puts up good quality hay, and understands the preferences of horse owners.
I call him in the summer, let him know how much I think I'll need for the winter, and pay a deposit. He delivers it to me straight out of the field. This is cheaper and more convenient _ he doesn't have to store it and it gets handled less.
I called him this winter, well in advance of when I was out, let him know that I was running through hay at an astronomical rate, and asked him to reserve me more to be delivered when the weather broke.
I guess what I'm trying to say is I prefer to have a relationship with the farmer, and to be know as a good customer. Just makes everything easier.
Originally I shopped the classifieds. I use straw for chickens and dog bedding and usually find it easily on Craigslist.
For our hay, I have a sort of lease deal on a pasture of one of my farmer neighbors. I buy whatever comes off the field. That way I can dictate what size its baled in. I have a small tractor and it is less than a mile away so I pick it up myself.
There is another fellow who is a hay supplier on the national level. He stores his less than a mile from me so we have a lot of hay within a short distance.
He lists his on several sites including Hay For Sale - Internet Hay Exchange
I like keeping an eye on the fields as it is growing and watch when its cut, how long it lays and if it gets rained on. We pick up our bales as soon as its baled and put it up on pallets (large round bales). There is less rot on the bottoms that way.
I think we've done it all over the years. We've grown our own, purchased from newspaper ads, feed stores, internet listings, and word of mouth. For a while everyone we bought from had something horrible happen--heart surgery, cancer, house fire, and even death. I thought about changing our name during all that in case word spread we were "bringers of bad luck". We have had a lot of bad experiences with both large hay producers (canceling small sales in favor of truckload sales), feed store sales (rampant overcharging during hay shortages) and small hobby growers (poor baling technique and lack of field care). We've also had a lot of good experiences. Luckily, this year we found a wonderful farmer and have an abundant hay supply and we are so grateful for him. Not feeling the "where is my hay coming from" stress is a wonderful thing.
I found my hay guy from a horse neighbor. I've used the same guy since moving to my new area and he's fantasitc.
I would NEVER buy the hay without seeing it, you just never know. Because of thes shortage of hay this year I was looking around and called a guy that said he had "good horse hay" it was so full of mold.
I have a small amount of horses (5) so we just buy all of what we need at one time usually, but don't necessarily haul it all home at the same time. He load it, haul it and unload it.
We just started growing and baling our own this year (:
It was quite the...experience
Word of mouth (how most things are done here)
We get a round bale about once a week and haul it home on a small flat trailer.
We've got to get some square bales soon from another guy so we can stock up the hayloft just in case we can't make the weekly trip. Again, we found the square bale guy by word of mouth.
Ours is a combination from word of mouth and craigslist. You have to ask a lot of questions when buying off of craiglist, make sure it was grown for horses, no rain, etc., etc., etc. Word of mouth is a little more lax to me because it's often my friends who already purchased and are happy with the hay who tell me about it.
They did bale the field across the street from our house this past fall and for that one we walked over and asked the guy if it was all sold. He said no, we said "great! we'll take 100" and picked them out of the field ourselves :)
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