Depending on the number of animals you own, your hay bill may be sending you over budget. If you are looking for new ways to try and cut your hay bill in half check out the tips below.
We tend to only buy hay for the winter months, BUT given where we live in upstate New York, our winter months can be LONG. This past summer we decided to gather up all the left over alfalfa in the alfalfa fields near us.
We have two near our property and last year we only took advantage of one. It was enough to feed our two small goats, mini pigs and rabbits to supplement in the summer months.
Through the winter months I mix it in with our hay. This has helped us reduce our own personal costs. If you live out in the country and are near any alfalfa fields, pay attention to when they cut the field. After the farmers have collected everything there is usually enough to go around with your own rake and make mini bales.
The other plus to making your own bales is if you are right on space. These things are adorable.
You can check out our video below if you want to see how we make them into bales.
You could do this for any farm fields near you. Once the farmers have harvested everything from the field whatever is left may be something for your animals to eat.
Depending on what animals you own always do a little research to be sure they can eat it.
Get the Big Ones
The other way you can try to reduce your hay costs is with the phrase, the bigger the bale, the smaller the cost.
If you are able to find one mini round bale from a farmer you will spend a LOT less. If these sell for around $25 each and you are able to get seven small bales it’s like paying $3.50 per bale.
Again you will need to figure out if they can deliver if you are unable to pick it up.
Put the word out on Facebook and don’t be afraid to price compare. When price comparing ask what kind of bales they are selling? Straight grass or alfalfa mix? Also find out how old the bales are. Before we found a local farmer to get hay from we went to a popular feed store near us.
For us I’m okay with paying a little more per bale because they are fresh.
In our area the average price is $6 -$7 per hay bale. At our local Country Max store you can get a bale of hay for the same price $6 or $7 but I found the quality was less. The protein content wasn’t as high and there was a lot more waste from the animals.
Graze your animals as much as possible given your location.
Remember if you have your animals out on pasture this will reduce your hay costs. For our mini pigs they do NOT need to have hay. It’s more of a treat for ours in the winter. They get what the goats don’t eat.
Save up those Christmas trees!
A new tip we just discovered this year is how much goats love pine trees. We were able to grab some of our neighbors Christmas trees and toss in the goat pen. This helps reduce the hay cost too.
The ducks and chickens peck around it as well. Because we are the frugal people we are, we even picked up a Christmas tree blowing down the road for the goats!
Free is free and pine is actually a dewormer for goats and high in vitamin c.
And the last thing you could take a double check on your hay feeder. Depending on what you are using it may be wasting hay. A hay feeder will be a way to save money because it limits the opportunity that animals have to trample or soil hay .
You may want to look at a hay feeder that has a tray underneath. There are some DIY options here.
Update: Our fodder didn’t work. We will try it again next year. Now we are more focused on starting our seeds for the vegetable garden.