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Published August 08, 2011, 04:00 AM

Higher hay prices expected in 2011

ST. PAUL — U.S. farmers plan to harvest 4 percent fewer hay acres in 2011 compared with 2010, according to a recent acreage report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Record-low hay harvests are expected in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Maine, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

By: Krishona Martinson,

ST. PAUL — U.S. farmers plan to harvest 4 percent fewer hay acres in 2011 compared with 2010, according to a recent acreage report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Record-low hay harvests are expected in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Maine, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

With lower existing hay supplies, higher input costs (fuel, fertilizer, land rent) and higher grain demand and prices (corn and soybeans), livestock owners can expect higher hay prices in 2011 and into 2012.

Preparing

To prepare for higher prices, the University of Minnesota Extension Service has recommendations for horse owners:

- Remember that quality forage should be the backbone of your horse’s diet. Forage should be used to meet a minimum of two-thirds of a horse’s nutritional needs.

- Have a good working relationship with a hay supplier to ensure a consistent and reliable source of hay.

- Consider adding hay storage space to reduce the effects of price and seasonal fluctuations (hay is sometimes more expensive in the winter vs. the summer).

- Buy hay early. Do not wait until late summer or fall to buy hay.

- Plan in advance. Budget for the price increase and re-evaluate how many horses you can afford to feed.

- Finally, try to keep your hay type (for example, grass or alfalfa) consistent. Constantly changing hay types can lead to health problems, specifically colic, in horses.

Information: www.extension.umn.edu/horse.

Editor’s Note: Martinson is an equine specialist with University of Minnesota Extension Service in St. Paul.

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