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Hay Price Outlook

The current outlook for horse hay supplies and prices in 2014 is more optimistic than last years due to: increasing hay acres in production and good spring rains in many areas, which should boost production.  As always, local growing conditions will have a big impact on what you will have to pay for hay.  It is always best to estimate your total annual hay needs early and contract to fill your needs during the production season.

Expert Advice

John CohanJohn Cohan

Attorney at Law 

Recent Expert Advice
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Rained-on hay can be good for horses

Research shows that while rained-on hay is less than desirable for beef and dairy cattle it can be good for horses, especially those with laminitis, Equine Metabolic Syndrome or obesity.

Several researchers have studied the effects of rain on cut alfalfa in the field, according to Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin.   One inch of rain can cause dry matter losses of 22%. Similar hay without rain damage loses only 6%. Reduced dry matter cuts feed efficiency in dairy and beef cattle and increases feeding costs.

Rained-on hay can be a suitable forage depending on several factors. Quality tends to be retained if rainfall: occurs soon after cutting, there is only one rain event, intensity was high and forage has not been re-wetted by more rain.

Horses prone to laminitis and other metabolic disorders can benefit by being fed rained-on due to its reduced soluble carbohydrate content.  Analyzing nutrient content of rained-on hay is recommended    .  Ironically, purchasing rained-on hay with naturally low levels of carbohydrates is a possible alternative to soaking hay as some horse owners do to reduce carbohydrates.

Rained-on hay usually sells for less than hay not exposed to rain.  So, horses might actually save money and gain a health benefit at the same time.  For more information, go to and find the December issue of Forage Focus in the archives.


AQHA gets favorable verdict in lawsuit

On October 26, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit entered an order denying the plaintiffs' petition for rehearing of the opinion that rendered judgment for the American Quarter Horse Association in the cloning lawsuit.

Specifically, that opinion held that the plaintiffs' evidence did not prove a conspiracy to restrain trade and that "AQHA is not a competitor in the allegedly relevant market for elite Quarter Horses."

"We are delighted with this decision," said Craig Huffhines, AQHA executive vice president. "Our staff and legal teams have devoted countless hours fighting for our members' rights, and we're grateful for the Fifth Circuit's decision that leaves intact the well-reasoned opinion in AQHA's favor."

For more information, visit


Pasture value increases vary widely by region

The value of U.S. pasture land increased 2.3% in 2015 compared to one year earlier, based on USDA survey information.  An acre of pasture now is worth $1,330.  The highest value per acre is $13,500 in New Jersey.  The lowest value is $660 in Oregon.  Values are mainly driven by increases in agricultural land.

From 2014 to 2015, the regions with the biggest year-to-year increases were:

  • Lake states: 15.4%

  • Northern Plains: 6.9%

  • Corn Belt: 3.4%

In the regions listed above, increasing competition from corn and soybean production is thought to be a major factor in driving rates up.  Changes to federal farm and crop insurance programs spurred conversion to row crops.

Rental rates for pasture showed a modest increase year over year according to USDA data.  The biggest increases occurred in the Delta, Southeast and Southern Plains states.


Feeder design influences feed intake and waste in small square bales

Small square bales are the choice of many stable owners.  New research by the University of Minnesota shows that hay feeder design has a strong influence on hay waste, intake and bodyweight change when feeding small square bales outdoors.  Compared with just feeding hay on the ground, the study also compared how long it took for the various feeder types to pay for themselves based on reduced hay waste when compared to ground feeding. 

Three feeders were studied and compared to ground feeding:

  • ·         Horse bunk feeder and hay rack from Priefert Mfg, Mt Pleasant, TX ($280)
  • ·         Slat feeder from The Natural Feeder, Story City, IA  ($349)
  • ·         Basket feeder from Tarter Farm & Ranch Equipment, Dunnville, KY (Cost $372)

Two feeders of each type were placed in separate outdoor dirt paddocks. Twelve adult horses were divided into four similar herds of three each and rotated through the paddocks, remaining in each paddock for seven days.  Horses were weighed before and after each rotation, and the difference was herd bodyweight change.

Grass hay was fed at 2.5% of body weight.  Two feedings were made per day at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.



Hay waste

Estimated hay intake

Herd bodyweight


Payback in



% bodyweight


In months
















No feeder (ground)






All feeders had barriers separating horse from feed. The slat feeder had the biggest barrier to hay consumption by horses compared to other feeders.  It also had the least hay loss.  However, given an equal amount of time between feedings (12 hours) horses would likely have been able to consume their entire hay meal from the slat feeder.  The lower hay intake for no-feeder was mostly due to greater hay waste.

Results demonstrate that small square-bale feeder design affected hay waste, estimated hay intake, herd bodyweight change, and payback when adult horses were fed in outdoor paddocks.  This information aids horse owners and professionals when purchasing small square-bale feeders and estimating hay needs.


Boot design enhances horse comfort and protection

Veredus horse boot manufacturer is bringing their high-tech line to the Cross Country phase of Eventing with their new E-Vento Boots. The rigors of Cross Country demand boots that have extreme flexibility and a high level of protection yet are still lightweight and non-absorbent. Water jumps and soggy terrain are less of a concern because the legs horses stay cool while being protected.

The E-Ventos’ protection is derived from a polyurethane foam gel, which encased in pockets and channels throughout the boot, even under the Velcro--these pockets move with the horse, their extreme flexibility a more effective protectant than a rigid, hard plate. The E-Vento System, paired with the micro-perforated Aerox lining, keeps the legs cool by venting air through the boot while in use.
The Veredus line of horse boots is distributed exclusively by English Riding Supply. For more information on the complete Veredus line or to find a stocking dealer, see and on Facebook at