HayOne of the unfortunate consequences of a slow economy is that when horse owners begin to struggle financially, their spending on horse care and feed is one of the first things to be cut. I can’t even begin to recount how many stories I’ve heard over the past year of horses whose owners just can’t afford to feed them anymore. So we’re tackling the important topic of feed and nutrition – finding ways to save money without compromising your horse’s health. Over the course of the next four weeks we’ll be discussing cost-saving practices for purchasing, storing, and feeding hay, grain, pasture, supplements, and nutrients, but this week let’s focus on hay. It comprises over 50% of your horse’s diet and needs to be properly stored, properly fed, and of high quality (for more on testing the quality of your hay, see “Don’t Guess, Test Your Hay”). So where do you find opportunities to save?
This week’s Thrifty Horsekeeping excerpt (download here) discusses hay-purchasing strategies, but I also want to list some ways to save once your hay is bought and paid for:

-Build a pole barn so you can buy in bulk and store more hay rather than having to buy during the pricey winter months OR form a co-op to contribute to building a large hay barn for several neighborhood horse owners.
-Animal-proof hay storage areas and ensure they are moisture-free to prevent spoilage.
-Utilize a hay feeder or ground-level manger to prevent wastage.
-Bringing your horse inside a stall to eat its hay will also prevent unwanted wastage.
-Also check out two "oldies but goodies" from TheHorse.com archives: Buying and Storing Feeds and Minimizing Feed Costs

How have you stretched your hay dollars without affecting your horse?