Hay prices increasing in Valley due to drought

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Just as humans need food to survive, horses need hay. Right now around the Valley, however, the price of hay is increasing. Now some ranchers are finding it harder and harder to afford feeding their livestock.

Hay is for horses, but right now, there's not quite enough to go around.

"Horses have to have hay to live," equine veterinarian Braden Shafer said. "[Hay has] gotten expensive due to demand."

Dr. Shafer boards horses, but increasing hay costs are making business difficult.

“You know, we love the boarding, it's fun, horses are fun, but the hay's creeping up there and it's probably going to cause our fees to go up," he said.

Right now, hay yields are down around the Valley due to the current drought conditions.

"There are quite a few growers in the Grand Valley last year that just didn't grow hay. They didn't have enough water," CSU Extension agronomist Ron Godin said.

A shortage of hay means more expensive prices, and Godin says the widespread drought is creating a vicious cycle when it comes to buying hay.

"Ranchers in Texas are buying from Colorado,” he said. “Since we're running low on hay here, we're buying it from other places and the price just keeps going up."

In the past two years, the All Around Feed and Supply store has watched a bale of hay jump from $7.50 to $11.50.

"We’ve seen a major change just because of the drought," sales manager CJ Altenburg said. "We were having hay from $100 to $120, $150 dollars a ton, now it's ranging from $250-300."

Ranchers and farmers are hopeful for more moisture this Spring, because when you're feeding multiple horses or cattle, the price can really stack up.

"We hope and pray that we don't have a drought year because that could really put us in a bind," Dr. Shafer said.

Experts say when hay gets to be this expensive, sometimes it doesn't pay to grow cattle. That’s why some farmers are choosing to sell their herds right now.

Dr. Shafer also says there are also some cases of accidental animal abuse because owners cannot afford to feed their horses and livestock due to the high prices of hay.

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