What type of hay do you feed your horse?

Big alfalfa signI had to laugh when we drove by this sign “May Heaven be as green as alfalfa.”

One of the interesting things about traveling around the country is seeing the differences in horse keeping, including differences in hay. It makes sense that climate differences would change what grows well which in turn changes what is available. It also changes the price.

Alfalfa hay likes heat and does well with irrigation. Right now we are in southern California and alfalfa hay is less expensive than grass hay. I have spent most of my life in the east where grass hays grow best and, in turn, usually costs less.

The alfalfa bales have been ranging anywhere between $14-$18 per bale BUT they are also tied either with wire or three strands of twine because they weigh around 100 pounds each. The grass hay is even more with a 100 pound bale of Timothy or Orchard Grass ranging between $25-$28 dollars!  Thankfully we still have a few bales of grass with us to mix. Not that the horses are eating it because given the choice they are picking out the alfalfa.

The interesting thing to me is this: we are spending about the same amount on hay now as we were in the east based on the amount they are consuming free choice both then and now.

I don’t intend this blog to be about the nutritional needs of specific horses, or the pros and cons of certain hays, but I am curious about where you live and what type of hay is easiest to obtain. I am also curious of the weight of the bales and the local price.

zoom alfalfa


  1. Megan on June 20, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    $4 per 50lb small square bale in so intern Ontario Canada :))
    We feed grass hay (little alfalfa). Hay is plentiful in my area and I am thankful!!

    • Megan on June 20, 2016 at 11:51 pm

      *Southern* Ontario

  2. lisa Hernandez on February 17, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Hi stacy,
    I am.I Am in yuma,az. We provide alfalfa hay to everywhere. It grows everywhere but the local horse person pays anywhere from 12 to 19 dollars a bale. My horses are picky with certain farms.

    • Diane E Griffith on May 1, 2022 at 7:22 pm

      5-1-22 I’m in northern California and what’s happening for you is happening here. Last year’s 3 wire grass hay sold today = $28/bale. However. I plan to buy from the grower right after first cutting at $18.50/ bale. That should be mid June.

  3. Ashleigh on February 17, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    I live in south Mississippi and I don’t use square bales, I use big round bales of bermuda grass and they’re $35 for a 1200 lb bale… Square bales of the same are about $6.

  4. Terri on February 17, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    $3 for grass hay small bales-30lbs

  5. Carla Miller on February 17, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    I live in DFW Texas and coastal is common here. It is running about $75 round bale of 1,000 pounds or about $14 for a two string bale or $19 for a three string bale. It’s not good hay. IMO. Lots of horses colic on it. I prefer alfalfa and mixed timothy/orchard grass.

  6. Christina Burdios on February 17, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    i live in Northern California and EVERYONE I know pretty much only feeds orchard grass hay 2-3 times a day. I personally like to mix it up some by feeding orchard as well as oat or alfalfa-grass mix. Orchard grass is by far the most expensive at $24-28 bale and if you buy from a feed store bales are not allowed to be over 100 pounds otherwise their workmans comp insurance won’t cover their employees. The bales are light and mostly crappy. It’s very hard to find quality hay. I buy straight from the farmer or my friend who sells. He has hay tested and bales are well over 100 pounds. $20-21. You can also get oat, wheat and Tricale straight out of the field in Sonoma county for $14 bale. Alfalfa out here is good quality but most people are way to scared to feed it so I only know of one person that does. Not sure how much I agree with that as it all depends on the undividule horses needs.

  7. Tona Lednum on February 17, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    I live in North Carolina. Feed grass hay, fescue, coastal bermuda, orchard grass. Hay is expensive this winter. I paid $9.00/bale for timothy/orchard grass mix. This hay was brought in from New York. The bales are about 40#. Hay is in short supply now so anyone selling hay is asking big prices. I paid $4.25/bale for fescue mix pasture grass back in the Spring. That is about the cheapest I found and usually is the most plentiful. Not the best quality so alot of waste. They eat what they like and leave the rest. I do feed big round bales but buy square to hold me over when the bale runs out and not able to get the next bale in. Mostly because of mud. The round bales are fescue mix grasses and the horses do well having this hay free choice. The round bales are 5 x 5 and cost $35-$45. I keep the hay in a “hat hut” so it doesnt get rained on or spread around. So that’s the story on hay for central North Carolina.Thank youT. Lednum

    Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2015 01:30:11 +0000 To: tonalednum@hotmail.com

  8. Sandi O'Donnell on February 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Hi Stacy, I live in Seattle WA area and buy our hay in Eastern Washington by the ton. We paid $145 a ton last year (bought 7.5tons) for straight Timothy Hay. There are about 16 to 17 bales per ton, which puts the bales around 118 to 125lbs each, so each bale cost around $8.50 to $9.
    For Jenny Northcott, the vast majority of hay grown in Eastern Washington is sold for export. Export buyers only want the very best hay and want it very green! They come over here and drive out to hay fields and look at baled hay and if they like it they will buy the entire farmers fields, which may be over 100 acres of hay!

  9. Loretta Fern King on February 17, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Hi Stacy, I live in southcentral Pennsylvania and we fed timothy hay year round. We buy in the small bales for about $7.00 right now but during the summer its around $5.50 – $6.50.

  10. LadybugFarm on February 17, 2015 at 10:17 am

    i’m in south western montana where alfalfa/grass mix hay is the easiest to obtain. we pay anywhere from $125-$175 a ton. a ton is usually around 32-34 bales, each bale weighing from 75-80 pounds. pure grass hay is quite expensive here as well. my horses tend to do very well on the alfalfa mix, plus 24/7 access to a 10 acre pasture in the winter. in the summer i have to find a low quality “filler” grass hay to offer when they are in the dry lot, then they are turned out on a different 10 acre pasture at night for 6-8 hours, depending on if i want to sleep in or not 😉

  11. Mareechia on February 17, 2015 at 10:12 am

    I live in the Texas Panhandle and Alfalfa small squares weigh about 65 lbs. and cost aroung $10 or $11.00 per bale. I feed feed alfalfa cubes that have been soaked in water for 1-2 hours. My horses prefer the cubes over baled alfalfa. ( I don’t feed much alfalfa.) My main hay source is from a local farmer. It is Coastal Bermuda grass hay. It is a variety that is a bit more “stemier” than some of the finer softer Bermuda hay. It’s light green in color and smells great. Very clean, absolutely now weeds. Bales weigh about 70-75 lbs. each. Cost is $8.00 per bale. I also feed “snack” hay to keep them munching on something throughout the day if they don’t get much pasture time. The snack hay is usually CRP grass hay or Blue Stem grass hay. I keep a round bale of it under a shed and pull off what I need with a pitchfork and feed as needed so that there is not as much waste.

  12. Deb Puddister on February 17, 2015 at 8:52 am

    I am in ontario Canada, quite far north. Our hay is usually grown in a mix up here with crops seeded for timothy, brome and alfalfa. With our cold winters and our slower start to growing we get a full cut of grass hay while the alfalfa is still coming up then a second cut which is mostly alfalfa with some grass stem in the second cut. In a good year 45 lb squares of grass hay go for about $4.00, alfalfa for about $6-$8 for 55 lb bales. Rounds cost between $35 and $60 depending on weight and quality. We go through an enormous amount of hay in the winter due to the extreme cold. You might remember that Stacey from your clinic in Orangeville in apri a couple of years ago.
    It was still quite chilly up here!

  13. Claire James on February 17, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Hi Stacey, here in the Southeast of the UK we feed either the traditional small oblong bales of grass hay which cost £5.50 ($8.45) or haylage which is earlier cut and wrapped in black polythene so slightly fermented, like halfway between hay and silage (cattlefeed). A big roll of haylage (about 4ft tall by 3ft circumference – no idea the weight) costs about £35 ($54).

  14. Kimber on February 17, 2015 at 7:04 am

    I’m in North Eastern Arkansas and this year I’ve decided to buy square bales due to only having my mare this winter. They are Bermuda grass bales weighing around 60-80 lbs. we’ve had wonderful hay this year but a few years ago my father bought some hay in bulk and the bales had 2×4 boards with nails in them. I can honestly say I’ve never been so mad but I’ve changed hay farmers since and I’ll never use anyone else!

    • Kimber on February 17, 2015 at 7:06 am

      I’m in North Eastern Arkansas and this year I’ve decided to buy square bales due to only having my mare this winter. They are Bermuda grass bales weighing around 60-80 lbs only paying $5 a bale. We’ve had wonderful hay this year but a few years ago my father bought some hay in bulk and the bales had 2×4 boards with nails in them. I can honestly say I’ve never been so mad but I’ve changed hay farmers since and I’ll never use anyone else!

  15. Jenny Northcott on February 16, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    So fascinating! I was listening to an agricultural radio show a few weeks ago and found it a bit distressing to hear that many large acreage farms in the US are shipping all their hay product to China to support their growing market for cheese. They stated that this was one of the primary reasons that hay prices were soaring and it is becoming more difficult to obtain. I am interested to hear if people are finding this an issue.

  16. Susan on February 16, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Its easiest to get fescue hay in central Virginia, but a blend of fescue, orchard grass and clover is my holy grail. You can feed plenty with no worries and is anywhere between $4-7 for a 15 or so pound bale.

  17. Wade Phillips on February 16, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    The hay we get in our area is between 2.25 to 5.50 a bale. It is a very in type of grassand usually some alfalfa. And most of Our hay is very green and our livestock really enjoy it.

  18. Alicia Thompson on February 16, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    We live in northern Alberta, about 4 hours farther north than Edmonton, and I feed large round bales, weighing 2000-2500lbs. The bales are a mix of timothy, fescue, brohm, red clover and alfalfa. I feed higher ratios of alfalfa during the coldest months as it does the best job of keeping them fat and happy when the temp drops to -50 Celsius. Depending on the year and the availability of good quality hay, you can pay anywhere from $30 per bale to over $100 per bale.

  19. Deanna Elkins on February 16, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Moses Lake, WA
    Summer price, at the stack:
    Alfalfa 10.00 for a 100lb. bale.
    Winter price, 14.00 a bale.
    Prices are subject to fuel prices

  20. Bobbie on February 16, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    I live in South Central Virginia and we can pretty much get most breeds of grass. We choose to feed an orchard mix and we pay on average 4.00 per square bale and 30.00 for a tight 5×4 round bale.

  21. Charlesanna on February 16, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    We’re in Piedmont NC, and always feed high quality fescue hay in round bales that weigh about 900 libs each. They cost $50 delivered. The cheapest hay I’ve bought was $15 a 4×4 round bale of fescue and the quality matched the price there. The farmer that supplies me now has excellent hay and the horses love it.

  22. Susan Deming on February 16, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    We live in AZ…i pay $16.99 a bale for alfalfa. The cheapest I have ever paid was $8 per bale in 2004 in WA.

  23. Leisa Crossley on February 16, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Hay in central Alabama, mostly grass hay (bahia, bermuda, timothy) run $6-8 sq bales BUT they only weigh 40-50 lbs. We have a guy we get round bales from for $30 each, approx 600-800 lbs.
    Many will run out before winter is over due to smaller summer yields last year. You have to make arrangements in advance. Alfalfa is available but is expensive here. Very interesting the differences from around the country.

  24. pamela on February 16, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    We are in the San Diego area. I feed bermuda and it’s $16.95 for a 100# bale. I’m weeping at the low prices listed on these comments!!

  25. karin McGee on February 16, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    We are hay farmers in South Central Montana , we have 1st and 2nd cutting Alfalfa this year , we test the hay .Our small squares weigh close to 75 pd are $ 8.00 , it is ” premium ” on the charts .
    We have customers that come from CA and Reno , love Montana hay . Our Horses have a free choice 1st cutting round bale and we treat with the flakes from second .

  26. Katie Goodfellow on February 16, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    I live in Mesquite Nevada, i pay $14 a bale for a 80# bale of 20% grass 80% alfalfa, ive paid as much as $20 a bale in this area. when i lived in Oregon it was under $5 a bale for grass hay and $7 for alfalfa. Oh how I miss cheap hay..guess its what I get for living where cactus grows vs grass haha

  27. Club Pony Pals on February 16, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    I’m feeding a grass/alfalfa mix, horses love it. $18 a bale in Southern California, about 10 miles south of Vasquez Rocks where Stacy is staying. I’m an admin for Club Pony Pals, an online horse game.

  28. Shelley on February 16, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    We’re in Northern lower Michigan. We are lucky to have enough acreage to grow our own hay. We have one 25 acre 90%Orchard grass/Timothy/10%Alfalfa field, and one 8 acre Alfalfa field. We have 4 pasture potato horses and feed hay, free choice minerals and salt, no concentrates, so we need a decent hay, but nothing incredible. We bale most of our grass hay in 600lb round bales. We also do some 50lb square bales in case we get too much snow to operate machinery. We feed the alfalfa to cattle our neighbor raises, our chickens and sell the rest to dairy farmers. Last year was a good hay year, and grass round bales went for about $45-60. 50lb squares went for $3.50.

  29. Ariane Aubert Bonn on February 16, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    I live in Québec, Canada, and I buy grass hay. The 40 lbs bales are 2-3$. I didn’t know that hay could be so expensive!! Round bales (about 500 lbs) are 25-30$ around here…

  30. Jody Brittain on February 16, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Well I live in NE Oregon. I ran out of my fall hay, which was an orchard grass, and had to get more just last weekend. I came across some Teft hay which I have been wanting to try. It was $265.00 a ton, and the bales weighed in at about 80 lbs. I LOVE THE HAY, and SO does my horse and three donkeys! I will be looking forward to filling my barn up this fall with teft hay!

  31. Jami Myers on February 16, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    We live in South Middle Tennessee. Round bales weighing about 600 pounds and stored inside $40 a bale. Square bales of good quality grass horse hay is $4.00 a bale and weighing about 40 pounds.

  32. bluemontanaskies on February 16, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Here in western MA during winter we’ve been fortunate to get 35 lb small bale timothy hay for 5.50 but it can be as high as 8.00.

  33. bluemontanaskies on February 16, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    During the winter here in western MA, we’ve been fortunate to get good 1st & 2nd cut small bale (35 lbs) timothy for 5.50 but others charge 7.50, our barn charges 8.00.

  34. Jenn Lindstrom on February 16, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Stacy!
    I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I Have a Clydesdale. We use round bales that weigh between 1500-2000 lbs each and contain mostly tame grass (brome, orchard grass, and red something… I can’t remember the name off the top of my head lol) and some alfalfa in the summer and bales with more alfalfa in the winter. We have seen it help keep weight on our horses during our sometimes BRUTAL winters (as cold as -45 to -50 degrees Celsius with the windchill). Those stretches don’t last long, but when they decide to show up, we will feed 4-6 times a day to help the horses keep warm. We have about 30 horses where I keep my Clyde, and they’re all outdoor board.

    • Jenn Lindstrom on February 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      And our cost is between $85 and $120 per round bale, depending on how the growing season was.

    • linda hess on February 16, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      Hi Stacy. I live in southern Idaho. I feed alfalfa with a grass mix. Alfalfa bales are about $8.00, weigh about 80 pounds with 2 strings. Grass hay is the same. I will be seeing you in Norco Thursday. My best friend lives nearby and she invited me to come. Can’t wait!

  35. Ellen on February 16, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    I’m on the east coast of Canada and currently buy round bales of wrapped haylage for $35 a bale (they weigh 5-600 lbs) and small square bales of grass hay for $2.50 – $4.25 a bale. Both are beautiful products!

  36. Carol Brandt on February 16, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Hey Stacy, I’m in CA and don’t feed alfalfa at all. CA alfalfa is grown primarily for dairy cows and the protein is way high. My vets have always said, unless your horses are working hard, stick with oat hay, or forage, and if you must feed alfalfa, only small quantities. In the drought conditions, hay prices have been insane here. 2 years ago I paid $22/bale for oat hay my horses would not eat. This year, I’m feeding wheat hay, harvested just right, $15/bale. With wheat you have to be careful not to overfeed.

    Welcome to CA!

    • Suzanne Genazzi on February 17, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      Norcal here, totally agree w/ you,I feed 3-way[oat,beardless barley&wheat], & turn out for forage. Comes out to about $15 per bale.We buy it by the trailer load as we feed cattle as well.

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