The drought is causing severe shortages of hay across Texas, and that’s making life difficult for people who own horses.
If you can even find someone to sell you hay, you’ll probably have to pay through the nose for it. Stephanie Reed has a few horses in Dale, Texas.
“In 2010, it was still a little high, but the average cost for a round bale of hay was $45 to $50 dollars,” Reed said. “Today, I am paying between $125 and $150.”
It’s just one of the many economic consequences of the worst single-year drought in Texas history.
The shortage is so severe that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is trying to help out by providing $250,000 in hay to equine rescue groups across Texas and Oklahoma.
One of the recipients is Jeanie Weatherhotlz. She takes care of about 80 rescued horses at Brighter Days Horse Refuge in Pipe Creek.
“It’s a constant worrier because you’ve got all these animals to feed and hoping you’re going to get some hay in soon,” Weatherholtz said. “If it continues if it’s going to get worse, what do we do with all these horses?”
Even if it rained buckets tomorrow, it wouldn’t help the situation this year. That’s because for most farmers, the hay growing season is already over, according to Dr. Larry Redmon at the Texas Agrilife Extension Service.
“If we haven’t grown it by now it’s going to be very difficult to get any from Texas,” Redmon said.
He explained how feed stores are offering alternatives to hay, like alfalfa pellets, which are more expensive. Grain rations are being made with a higher roughage content to suit horses general dietary needs, Redmon said.
Ranchers are traveling as far away as Colorado and Virginia to buy hay. "We've already bought out Oklahoma," said Reed.
The Texas Department of Agriculture has set up a hay hotline at (877) 429-1998 for people to find sources of hay in their area.