The wet weather in central Alberta has caused a reduction of high quality hay used to feed horses.
Adorado Nino Rescue and Sanctuary near Leduc, Alta. has more than 80 horses, and founder Tracy Bekendorf has concerns over the cost of hay as winter approaches.
The process of digesting hay helps horses keep warm.
“The problem is there was excessive rain this summer that really affected the farmer’s ability to get it off dry,” Bekendorf said. “So we are facing a situation where there is a shortage of hay, horse quality hay has to be baled dry.”
Bekendorf said it usually costs about $20,000 a year to feed the horse, but now the hay is expected to sky rocket in price.
“It’s quite scary because with the trucking and cost of the bales, doing the math, it’s $40,000.”
While Bekendorf is struggling, she is also worried that owners will be forced to give up their horses because of the price of hay.
“People can’t afford to pay those prices, so the result is more horses are going to auction and the fact of the matter is at auction a lot of horses sell for meat,” Bekendorf said.
This is the second year in a row weather has caused bad hay for the sanctuary, with drought conditions affecting horses and cows last year.
Cattle producers aren’t facing the same problem this year because cows can eat medium quality hay and have other fillers.
“You have to be careful what to feed the horses, because a little bit of mold a cow can eat just fine,” Alberta Beef Producers Chair Charlie Christie said. “A little bit of mold, as I understand, can be detrimental to a horses’ health.”
“(It can cause) colic, and dust in the hay can actually cause them to have respiratory problems,” Bekendorf said.
Bekendorf hopes by sharing her concerns people will donate to the rescue to help keep the horses fed and warm this winter.