Farm Horizons, Feb. 2006

Hay! Auctions bring together buyers and sellers

By Dave Cox
Staff Writer

It has been familiar part of the landscape in Hollywood Township for two decades.

Piles of hay begin to appear on Friday nights on the corner of Highway 7 and County Road 33, north of New Germany, in preparation for the hay and straw auction.

The hay is stacked in piles of 50 or 60 bales, a quantity that can be loaded into a pickup or horse trailer.

“Most of the buyers are weekend farmers,” auctioneer Don Koepp said. “They work during the week, and they need someplace to go out and get their hay on the weekend.”

Many of the buyers own hobby farms and keep a few animals.

Generally, only the small square bales are sold at the auction.

“The buyers are not set up for the big bales,” Koepp commented.

People come from all around the area. Gibbon, Holdingford, Waconia, and Gaylord are all regular entries on the list of buyers.

“It helps the local farmers too, because they have a place to sell their surplus hay,” Koepp said.

There can be more than 3,000 bales up for sale on a given Saturday.

Hay and straw of all varieties can be found at the auction.

Premium green alfalfa sells for $3.80 to $4.20 per bale.

The people who buy this are very particular. They feed this to horses, and they only get a sliver a day, Koepp explained.

Mediocre alfalfa can bring $1.90 to $2.90 per bale. This might be fed to dairy cows or other animals.

“The buyers check it out very carefully. They stick their noses right into the bales to make sure that it is not moldy,” Koepp said.

Good meadow hay that has been cut before it is headed can go for $2.50 to $3 per bale.

Meadow hay that is cut later, after the plants have headed, might sell for $1.50 to $2.

These prices apply to hay from last year’s crop. Hay from previous years might bring $1 per bale.

Straw can range from $1.40 to $1.80, but it is all based on supply and demand. If there is a limited supply, prices increase.

There are a few buyers who come to the auction to purchase corn stalks, which go for about $1 per bale.

Others come for bean stalks for their pigs.

“They say that the oil in the beans slicks the pigs’ coats up,” Koepp said.

The auction started in the mid-1980s, when Bruce and Helen Johnson owned the Hollywood Ranch House.

The auction was originally held at the ranch house, but was later moved across the road.

Koepp, of Don Koepp Auctions, Silver Lake, took over the auction last year.

Prior to that, it was run for many years by Gene Wiedenroth, of Wiedenroth Auction Service, in Hutchinson.

The auction begins Oct. 15, and is held the first, third, and fifth Saturday each month, starting at 11 a.m.. It runs until it gets too muddy in the spring, Koepp said.

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