Hay Prices Cause Problems for Horse Owners
Equine rescue group taking in more horses than usual
ANCHORAGE - A group that rescues horses in Alaska said they are taking in a higher number of the animals than usual from people who can’t afford to feed them.
In recent months the cost to feed horses in Alaska has gone up an estimated 20 percent, and one of the biggest factors is the price of hay.
“I would say one horse that's fairly easy to keep might cost $200 a month to feed,” said Heather Robb of Alaska Equine Rescue. “Now, it's $250, so it's jumped quite a bit. If you have multiple horses, it’s a big bite out of your paycheck.”
Robb said that’s simply for food. Boarding, vet checks and other items can push the costs up hundreds more. She said the rescue group has taken in seven horses in recent months, many a direct result of rising costs.
Costs have gone up for several reasons. People who buy hay from the Lower 48, as Robb does, are paying more in fuel costs to ship it up. Droughts outside have pushed up prices for both hay and grain. Hay grown in Alaska is much cheaper, but subject to the weather, which this year was bad.
“We lost over 200 acres of hay,” said Rick Gattis, one of the largest local growers of hay. Gattis said a third of his crops at Pt. MacKenzie were done in by wet weather.
“It takes four or five days to get it dry, and if we can’t get it dry in a week and it extends into two weeks and beyond, then the hay starts to mold and it’s no longer horse-quality hay.”
Gattis said his price hike has been moderate, mainly to cover costs associated with fertilizer which have risen drastically as well.
The end result has horse owners paying more and the Alaska Equine Rescue Group keeping horses when they can’t. The group said the horses taken in will be up for permanent adoption once they are in better physical condition.
Alaska Equine Rescue can also offer help for owners who are struggling so that they can keep their horses. You can find them at www.alaskaequinerescue.com.