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MASON CITY, Iowa – Horse owners may end up paying a little more to feed their animals come winter time.
Jim Barkema is responsible for taking care of a lot of horses. And each four-legged friend has quite the appetite.
Northern Wind Stables Owner, Jim Barkema said, “We go through what we like to figure around 20 small square bails a day.”
Going through all that hay could literally eat up a good chunk of Jim’s budget, but luckily he’s worked out a good system.
“We’re fortunate we bail our own hay and trying to find hay for that many horses would easily be a full-time job.”
But for others who don’t bail their own hay, buying those bails may end up costing a little more in the coming weeks.
Iowa State Extension Executive Director, John Sjolinder said, “Prices are gonna be all over the park along with a lot of other crops we’ve had an unusual year, we had a late start to the spring.”
Sjolinder says with a patchy alfalfa crop, combined with a dry summer, hay isn’t exactly where it should be.
“The drought has burned up a lot of fields and so production is simply down and the alfalfa that’s out there a lot of it’s pretty good for what’s out there.”
Jim says horses need proper nutrition, especially in the winter. For them eating, poor quality hay is the equivalent of humans eating junk food.
He said, “We have corn stalks they can gnaw on a bit, but it is just that, it’s just a filler. You still gotta have good quality hay grass or some alfalfa in it for them to sustain their body weight and in the winter time that helps because you gotta keep the heat up to stay warm.”
And while it’s difficult to predict hay prices too far into the future, Jim says it’s best for any horse owner to simply be prepared sooner rather than later.
“If we ever have to buy any, I try to buy it before we get the snow flying in the area to make sure I have established what I need.”