The little matter of hay …


This week I received an email from the barn owner where Bear is boarded which noted that, for the foreseeable future, boarders will be charged a $30 per month hay surcharge.

Several factors, including last year’s drought and a drop in hay acreage, have contributed to the doubling of hay prices in recent months. ie. a round bale that cost $40 this time last year is now over $100. For some horse and barn owners this will be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back on whether or not they can continue their stewardship of the horse.

Make no mistake, this is a serious situation. Already many horses in Canada, the U.S. and beyond have been abandoned, or prematurely sent to slaughter or euthanized simply because the cost of their upkeep has risen beyond their owner’s means.

It’s a fact of life. Good quality hay is a staple of the horse’s diet, so we must either pay what the market demands (even when greed becomes a factor which, some would say, it has) or, if we cannot, be forced into the unpleasant alternative.

Thankfully, Bear will be okay. Our barn manager is resourceful and we can manage the extra cost while being mindful of our budget. We have been assured that once the hay shortage has passed and prices correct themselves the surcharge will be dropped and board bills will be adjusted accordingly. When this might happen is anybody’s guess, of course.

Having said this, if it happened that I was ever unable to properly provide for my beautiful horse and there was no other in whom I could trust to see properly to his needs, I would be put in the very difficult position of having to decide whether or not to euthanize him. It doesn’t even bear thinking about. 😦

I agree with French author and aviator, Antoine de Saint Exupery, when he wrote in his delightful book The Little Prince, ” … we are responsible forever for the things that we tame.” To me abandoning Bear would be like abandoning a child. I could not even consider it. So, to me the only viable alternative would be to ensure he does not suffer.

I am confident I won’t need to do anything quite this drastic. In my mind I see Bear living to a ripe old age where, when the time reveals itself, I may need to assist him to that plentiful pasture in heaven. My preference, of course, would be that he gently meet his eternal rest while out in the paddock happily eating hay. 😉

Winter hay

Now, lest you think high hay prices only effect horse owners, you may wish to reconsider.

Cattle operations are in the same boat. In fact, anyone raising large animals and who relies on hay as a major source of fodder is feeling the sting of this shortage.

As a result, all of us can expect to pay more for food in the coming year. It cannot be avoided.

So really, I guess I’m simply giving you a heads-up.

Pray for a healthy dose of rain this year so we may all eat heartily.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom


Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

10 thoughts on “The little matter of hay …

  1. Horse rescues in Ontario (and other areas that were affected by last summer’s drought) are being overwhelmed with requests for help from owners who can’t feed their horses and from humane societies needing help caring for neglect cases. Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue in Hagersville, ON has taken in 15 horses in the past 6 weeks. Five emaciated quarter horses from a breeding farm. Ten horses from a thoroughbred breeder who asked for help. Even small donations to a rescue will help save these horses. To see photos and updates of the rescued horses visit their Facebook page at

  2. Saw this via facebook from UK. We had a shortage last year, hay was being ‘shipped in’ from Canada and Pakistan at amazing prices. Suppliers put their prices up, some seemed to be more than they needed. Locally an honest feed supplier was selling vacuum packed ‘hay in a bag’ bit like a haylage cheaper than some claimed for a bale of hay that was dusty!. Some hay production seems to have been lost in UK due to farmers moving to plants for so called environmentally friendly bio fuels. (makes people feel they are helping the planet by putting it in their car, but reality is lots of fertilizer can be used in it production) My horses live out (they are Icelandic) but in UK some stabled horses are suffering as bedding has become very costly, partly due to recession in the UK building industry-less wood for houses = less shavings which were bi-product. And in the UK horses are being abandoned-horse rescue centres cannot cope with need. Good luck

  3. hay prices vary wildly depending on where you live. But I agree it’s been a difficult year for hay. Also, here, the farmers have trouble finding workers to cut the hay as well.

    • You are right, Teresa. There are a number of different challenges to consider, farm labour is one of them. Hopefully knowledgeable horse people can pull together to find plausible solutions. … Be well, Dorothy 🙂

  4. As someone who lives in Chicago I never realized how crucial hay was and how expensive it is. I am sorry to hear that this is having an impact on the health and well being of some horses.

    • Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. … Hay was not so expensive until this past year with the droughts, etc. Hopefully it will come down in price again as the supply stabilizes. However, for the foreseeable future things look kind of bleak. Our barn manager has been warning about the hay crisis for months and, thankfully, has been preparing accordingly. … Be well … Dorothy 🙂

  5. It breaks my heart to hear of horses being abandoned, euthanized, or sent to slaughter due to the recent hay crisis. There are measures that horse owners can take that will not break the bank. As a committed horse person I am dedicated to helping others resolve this issue, check out my recent post on growing grain fodder on my blog at:

    In Western Colorado we are paying over 400 per ton and with a herd of five horses I can relate completely to the financial strain others are feeling right now. I have spent a great deal of time refining growing grain fodder for my horses this past year in an effort to provide my horses with a quality hay alternative that does not break the bank. I hope this helps some of you. Good luck!

    • Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. … It is a challenging situation, to be sure. Congrats to you for taking some initiative to find a viable alternative. … Be well and hug your horses 😉 …

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