KY Horse Farms struggle with Hay Prices

Posted by Jennifer Karlen on Sunday, February 8th, 2009 at 8:46pm.

ky-horse-farms-struggle-with-hay-prices_100The Louisville KY newspaper The Courier-Journal wrote an excellent article in the Friday January 18 2008 edition regarding a growing problem for many KY Horse farms.

As many of you are aware, hay prices this year have gone up dramatically.  This has led many Kentucky horse farms owners to begin giving away, or donating their hroses because they lack adequate food for the horses to get through the winter.  In some more extreme cases, horse owners are simply abandoning their animals.

The problem began back in the Spring of 2007.  Hay stocks were recorded to be the lowest that they’ve been in about 50 years.  Then there was a late hard frost that killed almost all alfalfa crops in KY.  Add in the very long drought this summer, and soaring temperatures - and most persons that normally have hay surpluses, ended up only getting perhaps 1 cutting of hay off their fields this year.  [For reference, on our horse farm in KY, we only got 1 cutting of hay off our field, where last year we got 3 cuttings.]

This set up Kentucky in the unusually awkward position of instead being a hay producer and exporter - many persons are having to get hay brought in from other states.  [We personally, have had hay brought in from Indiana and Wisconsin to feed take care of the animals on our horse farm.]

The hay problems have grown to such a dramatic impact for many horse farms owners, that the Kentucky Horse Council is currently compiling information its receiving from state vets and other equine interests, to prepare a report on the situation.

Some of the equestrian shelters are becoming full occupancy.  One such example is the Kentucky Equine Humane Center located in Nicholasville KY.  Their 50 horse facility is nearly full.  While they don’t turn any horse away - some are having to be euthanized because adequate care is not able to be provided.

Hay prices are currently $7-8 per square bale for grass hay in KY.  [We paid $8.50 per square bale for large bales that contained an alfalfa/timothy mix that came from Wisconsin.]  Several feed companies are charging as much as $13 per bale.

A secondary matter that is compounding the abandonment problem, is the law that went into effect in 2006 regarding a ban on horse slaughter.  This has left persons with few alternatives if they can’t afford to feed their horse - and they can’t put it down, what do they do with it?  All of this has resulted in a big increase in horse abandonment.

Its quite an unfortunate circumstance for the horses, and KY horse farms owners.

The Kentucky Horse Council is calling for persons to be much more selective in breeding for the coming year.  Too many horses are getting bred, that really offer no value to the industry beyond it being nothing more than a pleasure horse.  And there are a lot of nice horses currently available either for adoption - or very cheap costs of purchase.

Its the end of January, so hopefully we only have a couple more months to get through before the grass start growing again and the horses will be able to sustain themselves on their own forage on their own farms.  Alternatively, the spring real estate market has already started moving - and if persons need to get out of the business, now is a good time to put on the market your KY horse farms for sale.  Theres still a strong demand for quality set up facilities that are ready to be utilized and now is a great time to start marketing those farms for sale in KY.

Remember, its your obligation to take care of your animals.

If you are a horse owner, and unable to adequately able to care for your horse, please call the Kentucky Equine Humane Center at 859-881-5849 and they should be able to help you with your situation.