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Horse owners should prepare for higher hay prices

Ag News Wire
By Krishona Martinson, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. PAUL, Minn. (7/11/2011) —U.S. farmers plan to harvest 4 percent fewer hay acres in 2011 compared to 2010, according to a recent acreage report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Record-low hay harvests are expected in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Maine, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Together with lower existing hay supplies, higher input costs (fuel, fertilizer, land rent), and higher grain demand and prices (corn and soybean), livestock owners can expect higher hay prices in 2011 and into 2012.

To prepare for higher prices, University of Minnesota Extension has these recommendations for horse owners:

  • Remember that quality forage should be the backbone of your horse's diet. Forage should be used to meet a minimum of two-thirds of a horse's nutritional needs.
  • Have a good working relationship with a hay supplier to ensure a consistent and reliable source of hay.
  • Consider adding hay storage space to reduce the effects of price and seasonal fluctuations (hay is sometimes more expensive in the winter vs. the summer).
  • Buy hay early. Do not wait until late summer or fall to buy hay.
  • Plan in advance. Budget for the price increase and re-evaluate how many horses you can afford to feed.
  • Finally, try to keep your hay type (for example, grass or alfalfa) consistent. Constantly changing hay types can lead to health problems, specifically colic, in horses.
Find more educational information for horse owners at www.extension.umn.edu/horse.
Any use of this article must include the byline or following credit line: Krishona Martinson is an equine specialist with University of Minnesota Extension.

Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, U of M Extension, (612) 625-0237, ced@umn.edu

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