Prepare for a Reduced Hay Crop in 2008

The USDA has released several crop reports that indicate the number of hay acres will be down in 2008.

The department also reported that the existing hay supply is lower than 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, Minnesota's Sauk Center Quality Tested Hay Auction recorded record prices. Average hay prices were $100 a ton higher in 2007-2008 than the previous five-year average.

To prepare for higher prices, the University of Minnesota recommended that horse owners:

  • Remember quality forage should be the backbone of your horse's diet.
  • 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.
  • 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 (like grass or alfalfa) consistent. Constantly changing hay types can lead to horse health problems, specifically colic.
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