BY BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
This year, Equine Outreach has received only 9 tons of hay donations, a fraction of what they need to get through this coming winter.
Equine Outreach board president Mary Shrauger believes hay crop failures in the midwest, and conversion of local hay fields to hemp production are contributing factors.
“The result, probably the unintended consequences are that horse rescues that depend on donated hay don’t have that this year. It’s a matter of supply and demand,” Shrauger said. “The demand is high but the supply is low so the donations just don’t happen. So we are going to have buy hay this year and pay more for it.”
Locally produced horse feed quality hay is running between $250 and $300 per ton.
Cloverdale area farmer Matt Cyrus attributes higher prices to wet weather that wiped out some cuttings, water conservation agreements that reduced deliveries to hay farmers in Madras and Culver which reduced hay production by about half, and to late summer rains that slowed growth and harvest.
“There has been some acreage converted to hemp production this year but I don’t think that’s very significant in the scope of things given that a lot of the acres that’s been converted to hemp is ground that’s been fallow and not in production at all,” Cyrus said. “Was either pasture ground or, in a lot of cases, was real low quality hay ground. So, it’s certainly had some influence but I think people are looking for things to blame that don’t exist.
Equine Outreach is seeking $18,000 in donations to purchase about 70 tons of hay it needs to feed rescued horses through the upcoming winter.