Bales of straw costing as much as bales of hay and silage

Round bales (4X4) of straw can cost the same as a bale of hay or silage in some parts of the country, with straw prices varying from €16-25/bale.

A recent look at Donedeal has shown that 4X4 round bales of straw are selling for up to €25/bale in Co. Mayo.

Meanwhile, round bales of hay and silage range in price from €18-25/bale across the country.

With the price of straw traditionally being higher in the west of the country, straw is being advertised for between €16-20/bale in parts of the midlands and the southeast.

Sample 4X4 round bale straw prices:
  • Mayo – €25
  • Leitrim – €18
  • Carlow – €20
  • Wexford – €18
  • Westmeath – €16
  • Longford – €18
  • Clare – €22

Quality straw has been scarce this year due to the difficult harvesting conditions and poor weather, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association Grain Committee Chairman, Liam Dunne.

When the quality drops so too does the quantity; if there is a bale or two less to the acre then that will have a knock on effect overall.

Farmers, especially in the west of the country, who generally bought their straw locally have been forced to search further afield, Dunne said.

“There has been a bigger demand from the west this year. Usually the west would produce one quarter or one third of the straw they needed.

“But supplies have fallen there, meaning farmers are searching for straw in areas where they have very few contacts.

“I get a phone call almost everyday from farmers looking for straw and I do my best to pass them onto people who I think might have straw for sale,” he said.

Two Markets for Straw

There are generally two markets for straw, with some farmers choosing to sell it straight off the field while others store straw until after Christmas, Dunne said.

A lot of supplies were bought early on, but farmers who have straw stored in sheds are reluctant to sell and are leaving it sit there until the price reaches a peak.

Some farmers are simply choosing to hold onto supplies, which represents supply and demand in its rawest form, the IFA Grain Committee Chairman said.

There are alternative options to straw for livestock bedding this winter, with peat, sawdust and bark topping the list.

However, each of these options provides their own positives and negatives, while they can also be labour intensive.