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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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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


When is soaking hay a good strategy for horse health?

The short answer is never if your horses are not diagnosed with laminitis, equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM) or hypokalemic and periodic paralysis (HYPP), according to Krishona Martinson, PhD, with the University Of Minnesota Equine Center.

If you are experiencing these problems, soaking hay in water is a recognized strategy to reduce the level of nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) and potassium in the diet, according to Martinson.

In excess, NSCs and potassium can be a problem for horses suffering from these conditions.  Reducing levels of these nutrients in diets for horses dealing with laminitis, equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM) and hypokalemic and periodic paralysis (HYPP) will help alleviate these problems, she adds.

Soaking removes some nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) from hay.  NSCs are water soluble.  Horses diagnosed with laminitis, PSSM and EMS should have no more than 10 percent NSC in the overall diet.  Horses with EMS or laminitis should be limited to 12 percent NSC.  Grain and other dietary components also contain NSCs. 

Not all forages contain the same amount of NSCs.  That’s a good reason to have hay tested.  Legumes (alfalfa and other clovers) tend to be lower in NSCs compared to cool season grasses (timothy, orchard, and others).  

Soaking most grass hays for 15 to 30 minutes will remove enough NSC for horses with PSSM, EMS or laminitis.  Soaking for more than 60 minutes is usually not necessary and may be harmful due to excessive leaching of essential nutrients and loss of dry matter. 

Legumes and cool-season grasses tend to be very high in potassium and often exceed the recommended 1.1 percent maximum level for horses with HYPP.  Soaking hay for 60 minutes is often necessary for horses with HYPP.

Wetting hay is sometimes recommended for horses with respiratory disease including heaves.  This not to be confused with soaking hay as covered here, which involves much more water and potential for nutrient leaching.

 For more information, go to:


Biosecurity tips for a better horse show season

If you are taking horses to shows or other events this summer, following a few biosecurity tips can make the trip more fun and rewarding. 

Krishona Martinson, PhD University of Minnesota equine specialist, suggests a few common-sense practices that can help avoid problems:

Work with your veterinarian to be certain recommended vaccines are current.  Keep sick horse at home, and watch for signs of fever, nasal discharge and diarrhea before, during and after events.

Hands should be washed frequently with soap, hand sanitizers and paper towels.  Be sure to bring all of these with you.

Spray-on commercial disinfectants can be used to sanitize stalls at show facilities.  Another option is to use diluted bleach (8 ounces of bleach to one gallon water). 

Do not share feed and water buckets, hay bags, grooming tools, tack or manure forks.  You should disinfect these items after arriving home.

Avoid letting horses have nose-to-nose contact.  Limit the general public’s contact with horses.

When you return home, wash your hands, shower and change clothing and shoes before working with horses that were left at the stable.  Isolate returning horses from resident horses for 14 days.  Watch for signs of fever, nasal discharge and diarrhea.

Taking these steps will help avoid bringing disease problems home with ribbons and trophies.


New recycled bedding material said to save money and time

Mucking stalls is a task that must be done but few enjoy doing.  Now, a new natural-fiber bedding material is available allows stalls to be mucked less frequently, saving time and money according to the company.  The product is Perfect Cycle Natural Bedding from Perfect Cycle Products, Holland, MI.

The product is essentially recycled dairy manure.  Dairy manure is run through an aerobic digester, producing bio gas and a 70%-liquid material.  Bio gas is usually used to generate electricity.  The liquid material is dried to about 35% to 40% moisture and becomes Perfect Cycle Natural Bedding, an odor-free product that has some Nitrogen and other nutrients.  Bacteria and pathogens are destroyed in the aerobic digestion process, which eliminates potential sources of odor.

Carey Boote, President of Perfect Cycle, says “This material absorbs three to four times its weight in liquid, a lot more than for wood chips, saw dust or straw.  As a result, stalls bedded with Perfect Cycle Bedding need to be mucked out less often. “In fact one Wisconsin stable owner with a 40-horse boarding operation has some stalls bedded with Perfect Cycle that have not been mucked out for six months.

The product comes in either pelleted or fiber form, packaged in plastic bags (25-lb for fiber and 50-lb for pellets).   It takes about eight bags of fiber or six bags of pellets to muck a 12 x 12 stall.

Boote says that based on a comparable volume of material his product costs about the same as wood chips, sawdust or straw.  However, the actual cost per day to muck to a typical stall is about 25% or 50% less these other bedding materials.  Savings result from using less material and reduced labor.

Currently, all the material for the Perfect Cycle product is sourced from certain Wisconsin dairies. Perfect Cycle Natural Bedding is currently marketed direct in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. For more information, contact: Eco-Composites/Perfect Cycle by phone at 616-395-8992 or go the company’s website


Horse hay could be less scarce in 2014

Going into the 2014 hay production season, on farm hay stocks are 35% higher than the same point in 2013 according to the USDA Crop and Livestock Reporting Service.  Even at that, the January 1, 2014 hay stock level was the lowest since 1989.

Nevertheless, tough winter weather in many areas along with other factors resulted increased hay use between December 1, 2013 and May 1, 2014.  Total hay use increased to 70.1 million tons, compared with 62.4 tons a year earlier.  As always, hay supplies vary widely because of weather conditions.

Experts recommend that stable owners start lining up hay supplies now as the 2014 hay production season gets going.