Integrity Horse Feed

Buying Smart - Purchasing Hay

Historically, for most horse owners the major considerations when purchasing hay have been type and quality. Now with the cost of hay undulating, horse owners are more attentive to “buying smart”. Hay bales appear to be of similar size and dimensions but they may vary greatly in actual weight. Even if you only buy a few bales at a time from a local retailer, knowing hay weight can save money by comparing hay prices by weight.

The Comparison Formula at the end of this Fact Sheet provides you with instructional examples for comparing hay prices. This mathematical formula provides a method to economically compare hay that is sold by the bale. Also to assist you in Buying Smart are tables to help you with evaluating hay weights and price: Table 1, is a Conversion Table Converting Price per Ton to Price per Bale. Table 1 also permits converting price per bale to price per ton. Table 2 is a Conversion Table for Estimating Bales per Ton.

One final consideration is bale shrinkage if purchasing hay that has recently been baled. “Fresh-cut hay” is hay recently harvested but it’s not usually a good buy. Moisture content of most hay bales will stabilize at approximately 8 - 9% water (92 - 91% dry matter). For example, hay baled at 20% moisture, dried to 8% would have a water weight loss of 12.0%. If the same hay crop had been baled latter in the day for example at 15% moisture and dried to 9%, then the water weight loss would be only 6%. Consumers who purchase "recently-baled" hay are only paying for water that will vaporize with time. This "fresh-cut" hay does not benefit your horse nutritionally.

Buying Smart Examples

Comparison Formula:

(2000 lb) x Bale price, $ = Cost per ton
bale weight,lb

Example I:

Which alfalfa hay cost less?

  • Bale #1 = $ 8.50 per bale; weight is 100 pounds.
  • Bale #2 = $ 9.00 per bale; weight is 125 pounds.

Solution I: Apply the Comparison Formula to solve as the following…

Bale #1: (2000 lb) x $8.50 = $170.00 per ton
100 lb.
Bale #2: (2000 lb) x $9.00 = $144.00 per ton
125 lb.

$26.00 difference per ton

Conclusion to Example I: By purchasing the heavier alfalfa hay (Bale #2) at $9.00 per bale, the horse owner would save $26.00 per ton. For the two different bale weights to be of similar price per ton, the Bale #2 , the heavier alfalfa hay, would need to cost $10.63 per bale.


Example II:

Which alfalfa hay cost less?

  • Bale #3 = $7.90 per bale; weight is 90 pounds.
  • Bale #4 = $8.35 per bale; weight is 115 pounds.

Solution II: Apply the Comparison Formula to solve as the following…

Bale #1: (2000 lb) x $7.90 = $175.55 per ton
90 lb.
Bale #2: (2000 lb) x $8.35 = $145.55 per ton
115 lb.

Conclusion to Example II: By purchasing the heavier alfalfa hay, Bale #4, at $8.35 per bale, the horse owner would save $30.35 per ton.


Hay Cost: The Best Buy

This section references Table 1. Examples have been underlined in the Table 1 (answers in italics) to assist you in understanding how to use the table.

Converting price per ton to price per bale

To convert price per ton to price per bale, locate the bale weight in the vertical column and follow this line horizontally across the page to the column that has the purchased price per ton at the top of the table. The number where the horizontal and vertical columns intersect represents the price per bale.

  • Example III: Bale weight, 85 lb; price per ton, $120.00; Price per Bale, $5.11
  • Example IV: Bale weight, 95 lb; price per ton, $125.00; Price per Bale, $5.94

Converting price per bale to price per ton

To convert price per bale to price per ton, locate with in the table the weight of the bale. Within the same row locate the price per bale. The price per ton will be represented in the top horizontal line, identified as Price per Ton, $.

  • Example & Solution V: Bale weight, 85 lb; price per bale, $5.75; Price per Ton, approximately $135.00.
  • Example & Solution VI: Bale weight, 105 lb; price per bale, $6.05; Price per Ton, approximately $115.00 Note: The change to pitch (15) and font (6) must be converted manually.

Conversion Table for Converting Price per Ton to Price Per Bale

Fact Buying Smart Table

Conversion Table for Estimating Bales per Ton

Fact Buying Smart Table

Examples are in black-bold to assist you in understanding how to use the Table 2. For the number of Bales per Ton reference Table 2.

Estimating the number of bales per ton based on bale size

Example & Solution VII: Bale weighs 95 lb; approximate number of bales per ton is 21. Or by simple division: 2000 lb /ton ÷ 95 lb/ton = 21 bales/ton

Example & Solution VIII: Bale weighs 55 lb; approximate number of bales per ton is 36. Or by simple division: 2000 lb /ton ÷ 55 lb/ton = 36 bales/ton

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