Hay for horses is big business – 30 million tons of hay are marketed in the U.S. through horses each year. The industry is seeing some new innovations for the equine market.

A Riverton, Utah company called Certified Utah Medallion Alfalfa (CUMA) Products is now packaging 45-55-lb. bales of quality hay in neat cardboard containers. Recognizing that 80% of the people who handle or own horses are women, company owners Ken Ashby and Lonny Adams says the boxed bales offer a convenient, easy-to-handle product that isn’t messy to haul in a sport utility vehicle or live-in trailer.

The duo believes that putting the high quality, rich green-colored hay in a box also takes their product away from the commodity market and makes it a value-added branded product.

The alfalfa is baled into one-ton squares and then sliced and hand-packaged into 15x15x22 inch cardboard boxes. Currently the baled alfalfa box sells for around $15, giving the product a $600/ton value. Most of the hay is presently being shipped to buyers in Florida and Southeastern states.

The company is currently working to get distributors set up, but to do so, businesses must commit to a truckload at a time – 900 boxes.

Another interesting innovation: Bailey Bros. Farms, which grows the alfalfa for the boxed bales, also has the capability of creating specialty bales with different hay products blended together – such as alfalfa with oat hay or timothy. Buyers can ask for a feed that has a specific protein content, TDN levels and relative feed values, and get it all in a bale blend made just for them. The bale is also compacted to be about 40% smaller than the traditional large square bale. Dairies and feedlots have already shown a lot of interest in the new concept. For more information visit http:// www.cumaproducts.com.

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