Horse owners should plan hay purchases now

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Horse eating hay

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Wild weather in the Midwest has left livestock producers on the hunt for hay very early in the year.

As a result, horse owners may not have as easy a time finding it when they need it later this year.

“With the weather conditions across the Midwest and western U.S., the hay crop may be less than what is normal,” said Bob Coleman, University of Kentucky equine extension specialist.

Coleman said horse owners need to start planning for the feeding period now. Horses need good-quality hay to thrive in times when pasture forage is not plentiful or just not available.

“Reach out to hay suppliers you’ve used in the past,” he said. “Make sure you’re on their list and they have the hay you are going to need.”

Do the math

Owners should estimate the number of days they’ll need to feed hay and pad that number a bit.

The value of 2% of a horse’s body weight in hay per day can be used for estimation purposes.

Coleman said to plan for 15% waste, and invest in a hay feeder to avoid losing up to 50%.

Another factor to consider is where owners will store hay until they need it.

Before storing hay, it’s important to have it tested for nutrient content to help with decisions about any necessary supplements.

Leave room in the budget for any needed supplement concentrates.

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