Hay is quickly becoming a very precious resource in Central Oregon this year due to reduced availability of irrigation water, fertilizer prices that have nearly doubled, and fuel prices that make running all the haying equipment and doing delivery dramatically more expensive. In some cases, hay has nearly doubled in price per ton.

We worry a great deal about the impact of hay prices on our patients and clients. Here are a few tips for making the most out of the hay you have:

1) Most horses need 1.5-2% of their body weight in hay per day unless they are also getting fresh grass. Weigh out your hay and don’t over feed your horses! Being overweight is unhealthy for them and can lead to laminitis. There’s also no point in wasting hay.

2) Make the most of your pastures and fresh grass by consulting your local extension service. Implementing rotational grazing, appropriate fertilization and water can make your pastures contribute significantly to your horses’ nutrition rather than just being an area for turnout.

3) It’s a good idea to get your year’s supply of hay into your barn now so you’re not caught short in the lean spring months next year when prices will likely go even higher. Don’t count on being able to buy it as you go this year!

4) Figure out a plan for storing your hay in a snug, dry area to reduce chances of mold. Use pallets underneath or a thick layer of loose hay and make sure runoff from the roof won’t cause the undersides of the bales to get damp.