A hardy grain that has adapted well to Montana’s cool climate, high altitudes, and scant rainfall. In Montana, all barley is planted in the spring, stalks produce only a few leaves before forming a spike, or head. Haybet, the most popular variety of hay barley has two rows of seeds on each head. Haybet is a beardless barley bred for use especially in Montana.


Hay is primarily used as livestock feed when animals cannot forage for themselves. In Montana, cows are typically fed hay from November to April, when snow covers the ground. Animals (especially horses) that live year-round in barns or pens are fed hay throughout the year. A cow will eat 2% of her bodyweight each day, and a horse will eat up to 3%. Many ranchers in Montana produce enough hay to feed their own animals, as well as excess hay to sell.

Central Montana Hay Barley

Growing Season

Planted late April to early May. Harvested mid July.


Montana produces 256,000 tons of non-alfalfa hay in Cascade, Chouteau, and Judith Basin Counties. 5.46 million tons of non-alfalfa in Montana.