The demand for early-cut hay varies across the country, with many buyers expressing a hesitancy to buy, unsure if prices will drop should summer growth and good weather allow more hay to be made.

Farmers are also voicing some reluctance to buy hay until straw prices have been set, being cautious that bedding costs may rise due to the Straw Incorporation Scheme.

Most hay already cut has taken a full week to properly dry, with the changing weather conditions looming over crops tedded out on the ground.

Some hay baled dry but green is being passed over, with farmers concerned about bales heating in sheds.

The general consensus is pointing towards a hay price of €25 per bale for medium-quality hay when the farmer buys direct from the field, rising to €30 to €32 per bale delivered locally.

€30/bale is being paid on the field in instances where high-quality hay was saved without rain from recently reseeded swards.

Any remaining hay from last year is generally of poorer quality and making €22 from the shed, or slightly higher if delivered, as sheds are emptied in anticipation of newly baled hay.

Many sellers are receiving queries from farmers who are bidding less than the asking price. For the time being, most sellers are content to shed hay in anticipation of the higher prices quoted.

Of the hay that has been sold, most appears to be travelling to beef and sheep farms in the sellers’ localities.

Little hay has moved westwards from the east and south as of yet.

Some of the larger sellers of hay have voiced a reluctance to continue making hay into the future, as rising fuel, labour and machinery costs are struggling to return a sufficient margin.