LaGrange Business Specializes in Hay, Straw and Supplements
Writer / Angela Cornell
There are several different types of hay. All kinds of livestock eat it, although some prefer different kinds of hay than others. This is especially true of horses, who can be incredibly picky eaters.
“It’s kind of like when you’re eating a pizza, you go to the best part and leave the crust laying there,” says Corneal Hochstetler, the owner of The Hay Shed in LaGrange. “That’s basically what a horse will do. If there’s palatability issues with the hay, the horse will go for the good-tasting stuff and leave the rest.”
This is something that Hochstetler had to keep in mind when his farm was affected by a hay shortage in 2012.
“We had that severe drought,” he says. “We didn’t have any hay around the community to speak of. I had a small hay field, but it didn’t produce enough to feed my horses for the winter.”
When he started looking for hay sources, he found that with most regional suppliers, the cost was through the roof. Then, he finally had a breakthrough when he contacted some hay farmers in the south. From those sources, it went from cost prohibitive to cost efficient to order a semi-truck load.
The truck arrived while Hochstetler was at work. By the time he got home that evening, there was a list of interested buyers waiting for him.
“Half of that first load was supposed to be for me, and the other half I was going to take to the auction and resell,” he says. “I ended up having to buy another load to have enough for me.”
However, that load, as well as several others, went just as quickly. Hochstetler found himself in the hay business.
To verify the quality of the hay, Hochstetler employs the forage quality test that 4-H officials use for competitions.
“You can tell by the numbers what the protein level is going to be, what the digestibility is, and what the palatability is going to be,” he says.
Although he always makes sure he keeps pure alfalfa and alfalfa blends on hand, he likes to keep at least seven different types of hay – 20 to 25 tons – in his barn at all times.
“I try to keep a couple different kinds of each one if I can,” he says. “That way, people have a really good selection. As long as it’s clean, dry, no mold, no dust, and the price is in a range that we can bring it in and resell it and still be within market value, I’ll take it.”
He even keeps some cattle-feed-quality hay, as well as straw, in stock for those who need it.
Understanding that one size does not fit all, Hochstetler keeps all sizes of bales on hand, from the 36”x18”x18” size that many people associate with the hay bales, to large round bales.
Although Hochstetler imports hay from a nine-state area, he also accepts local hay. Farmers looking to sell their excess hay or straw are welcome to call.
He also sells Dac horse mineral products.
“They are, in my opinion, the premium horse mineral supplier,” Hochstetler says. “I’ve been using their products for 15 years. It’s the perfect add-on to my hay. You can’t buy hay that’s perfectly balanced. It’s not out there. There’s always something that may be lower or higher. Dac helps balance the horse’s diet.”
Whether a prospective customer is looking for hay, straw or supplements, the best way to get the product is to make an appointment to drop by.
“If people come by to pick it up, then they can look at it and decide which they want,” Hochstetler says.
Delivery is also available, especially for local livestock owners.
Whatever the needs may be, Hochstetler’s goal is to provide excellent customer service along with a great product that can satisfy his four-legged and two-legged customers alike.
“I want the customer to feel like they did get a good deal, because that was the idea behind doing this,” he says. “They have the option to buy good, quality hay, and there’s customer satisfaction behind the sale.”
The Hay Shed is located at 0285 East 300 South in LaGrange. Make an appointment to check out Hochstetler’s hay and straw inventory by calling 260-499-3208.
Hochstetler is also looking for a part-time driver. Contact him to learn more about the position.