Lower than normal reserves and a reduced national acreage are likely to feed into higher hay prices in the United States this year, according to the University of Minnesota Extention.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released several crop reports that indicate the number of hay acres will be down in 2008, it said.
"The USDA also reported that the existing hay supply is lower than previous years.
"This information, combined with higher input costs - fuel, fertiliser, land rent - and higher grain prices will likely lead to increased hay prices."
Through the northern autumn of 2007 to the spring of 2008, checks indicated hay prices were $100 a tonne higher in 2007-2008 than the previous five-year average.
The university offered advice to horse owners:
- Remember that quality forage should be the backbone of a horse's diet (forage is a minimum of two-thirds of their 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. (given that hay can be more expensive in winter than summer.)
- Buy hay early. Do not wait until late summer or autumn.
- Plan in advance. Budget for the price increase and re-evaluate how many horses you can afford to feed.
- Try to keep your hay type (such as grass or alfalfa) consistent. Constantly changing hay types can lead to horse health problems, specifically colic.