Horse Feed, Hay Prices Up — It’s Tough to be a Horse Owner
NOTE: No podcast today. Just a good old-fashioned article.
Feed prices for horses are following a sharp trend upwards. Skyrocketing costs of corn, soybeans and wheat have placed tremendous pressure on hay; couple that with the fact that getting hay out of the field in the Midwest has been an overwhelming challenge this year. Owning, more importantly, feeding a horse has become a financial burden.
I read an excellent article from a colleague in Minnesota, Krishona Martinson. In her article, Krishona discusses some opportunities to help relieve expenses associated with horse feed costs. I have posted her article here in its entirety.
USDA has released several crop reports that indicate the number of hay acres will be down in 2008. It also reports that the existing hay supply is lower than in previous years. This information, combined with higher input costs (fuel, fertilizer, land rent) and higher grain prices (corn, soybean, wheat), will likely lead to increased hay prices.
Through the fall of 2007 to the spring of 2008, the Sauk Center Quality Tested Hay Auction recorded record hay prices. Average hay prices were $100/ton higher in 2007-2008 than they averaged the previous five years.
To prepare for higher prices, horse owners should:
1. Remember that quality forage should be the backbone of your horse’s diet (forage should be a minimum of two-thirds of their nutritional needs).
2. Have a good working relationship with a hay supplier to ensure a consistent and reliable source of hay.
3. Consider adding hay storage space to reduce the effects of price and seasonal fluctuations (i.e. hay is sometimes more expensive in the winter vs. the summer).
4. Buy hay early. Do not wait until late summer or fall to buy hay.
5. Plan in advance. Budget for the price increase and re-evaluate how many horses you can afford to feed.
6. Finally, try to keep your hay type (i.e., grass or alfalfa) consistent. Constantly changing hay types can lead to horse health problems, specifically colic.
— Krishona Martinson, Extension Educator, University of Minnesota Extension Service
I concur with everything Dr. Martinson has written. One additional comment I will make is that now is a good time to negotiate your stall rental fee if your horses are not kept on your property.