Colorado hay prices are more than double what they were last year and that is setting off a chain reaction that consumers likely will feel in the pocketbook.
Hay is selling for $14 for a small bale this year compared to $6 in 2012, said Hildy Armour of the Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance.
Armour's non-profit organization is attempting to ease the squeeze by providing emegency funds for the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank and the Western Slope HayBank to provide hay to those finding it difficult to feed their horses. Each group recently received $1,000.
It's not the first time the alliance has helped the two organizations. In August, $15,000 was awarded by the alliance to the two hay banks and to 14 horse rescues; and in December, Colorado horse lovers at the Denver Square Foot Art Show raised an additional $550 for the alliance to distribute to the banks.
“We know the drought in Colorado has driven up hay prices and made availability difficult, but there is help in Colorado," Armour said. "We encourage those in need to contact the hay banks for assistance; or, if you have resources to share, please consider contributing to these great resources.”
Some growers who normally can cut, bale and sell hay from their hay fields two to three times a summer were only harvesting a fraction of that, CBS4 reported late last summer. Many farmers were having to keep the hay for their own livestock, meaning less for sale.
All those costs are passed on to Colorado customers, the station reported. Dairy cows are fed hay, and if that is more expensive so is milk and cheese. If it’s more expensive to feed cattle, meat costs will go up. The drought has also affected many commodities like the grains found in cereals and even in dog food — meaning those, too, will cost more.
In the short-term, the Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance is stepping in to do it's part.
Horse devotees throughout the year use events as fundraising opportunities for the alliance to give back to the horse community. Additionally, Colorado tax payers can check off Colorado's Unwanted Horse Fund on the state income tax form to donate, and the state of Colorado will forward the designated amount. To learn more, visit www.counwantedhorse.org/.
The alliance was created specifically to address the problem of unwanted horses in Colorado. Armour estimated that about 6,000 - or about 2 percent - of the horse population in Colorado is unwanted, Armour said.
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