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“The Rest of the Story…Cost of Feeding Horses” Mindy Hubert, Small Acreage Field Specialist SDSU Extension 605-394-1722.

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Presentation on theme: "“The Rest of the Story…Cost of Feeding Horses” Mindy Hubert, Small Acreage Field Specialist SDSU Extension 605-394-1722."— Presentation transcript:




4 “The Rest of the Story…Cost of Feeding Horses” Mindy Hubert, Small Acreage Field Specialist SDSU Extension 605-394-1722

5 Many acreage owners are also new to Horse Ownership

6 Many New Acreage Owners: Migrate from urban areas / areas of higher rainfall Have little (if any) grazing mgmt experience Assume 5-10 acres will last “all year” or “ all summer” – unfamiliar with Western SD stocking rates

7 So…why are Stocking Rates important?

8 Because: they are directly related to the Cost of Feeding Horses Higher stocking rates now= buy more hay later!

9 Stocking Rate Review: = The amount of land allocated to a grazing animal for a specific length of time 1 cow/calf pair = 1 AU 1 adult horse = 1.25 AU – Due to horses’ grazing behavior (trampling, constantly grazing)

10 Stocking rates vary drastically: o Region to region o Many new acreage owners come from areas of greater rain fall o MN/eastern SD: 1 horse/ 0.8-1 acre /month o Western SD: 1 horse /2.5-4 acres/ month o (3.5x more acres needed!) o Year to year Stocking Rate Review

11 New Acreage Owners Often: Don’t realize they have over-stocked until excessive damage has occurred

12 Overgrazed Properties: Why do we care? Less grass=more runoff=more mud Invasion of weedy species Erosion, weed infestation and manure runoff affect other properties downstream and downwind Less snow/moisture is retained Unattractive Potential lower property value (neighboring properties also)

13 Prevention of Over-stocking is KEY..and cheaper in the long run!

14 Prevention: Informed Real Estate Agents = Informed new Acreage owners Upfront knowledge of year-round costs of horse ownership – Hay purchases (especially during drought years) – Fencing – Weed Control Team effort by us:  Real Estate Agents  SDSU Extension, NRCS, County Weed & Pest, Conservation Districts + more

15 Review: Growing / Grazing Season Usually May-September in SD Cool (May-June, Sept.) Warm (July-August)

16 What About After Grazing Season? Horses/livestock should be removed from pastures once ½ of total annual forage production is removed …

17 How can you accurately estimate annual production?

18 What About After Grazing Season? … and placed in a Sacrifice Paddock  Paddocks are prone to mud and weeds, so think about location/drainage before building  6+ months on average (Nov-April)

19 How Much Hay Do they Need? Depends on hay quality and horse’s activity level Hay Quality: – Protein/Energy, etc. Activity Level: – Leisure – Performing/Lactating

20 How Much Hay Do they Need? Usually 2-2.5 % body weight per day (dry matter-DM) 1000# horse will consume ~25# of hay per day (DM) MONITOR horses for rib fat o should be able to see last 1-2 ribs


22 What is Hay Going to Cost? Depends on many factors: – Size/type of bale – Unit cost (per bale or per ton) – Quality – Volume – Where purchased

23 Bale Size Small squares vary locally; 2012 prices: – $3 to $8/bale ($100-$250/ton) – $11-$16 in Texas (>$500/ton) Large Rounds=$60-120/ton – Delivery is usually required (~30/Ton more) – Need a tractor to handle

24 Small Square Bales 1 adult Quarter Horse consumes about 900# of hay per month (45% of a ton): o 900#/50 # square bale = 18 bales/month  $54 /horse/month @ $3/bale  $144 /horse/month @ $8/bale  $600/horse on average / 6 months  $1200/horse/year

25 Large Rounds Round bales are currently $60 - $120/ton (does not include shipping) o Alfalfa costs more than grass o Horse eats about ½ a ton per month  $30-60/horse per month  $270/horse/6 months  $540/horse/year

26 Where to Purchase Hay Neighbors/ranchers Feed Cooperatives (highest prices) Check newspapers

27 Reduce Hay Costs By: Purchase hay in large volumes for discounts Maximizing forage production – Acreage owners should not begin grazing until most grasses have 3-4 leaves in the spring – Rotational Grazing Makes horses graze less desirables Extending Grazing Season  Take Half, Leave Half  Graze 50-75% of time if possible  horses will eat and trample out of boredom

28 Considerations When Purchasing Hay: Quality of Hay for horses ( important consideration)  Most horses get by on quality grass hay  mold  blister beetles (lethal) Refer to SDSU Extension

29 Considerations When Purchasing Hay: Small acreage owners: – Equipment to handle hay – Time – Waste (more with round bales) – Financial

30 Quiz Time!

31 Question : You are listing a 5 acre property in the Black Hills. A couple with 2 adult quarter horses asks you how long it “will last their horses”. The suggested stocking rate for the area is 3 acres/AUM (.33 AUM’S/ac). What do you tell them ?  1 horse = 1.25 AUM’s; 2 quarter horses= 2.5 AUM’s  2.5 AUM’s * 3 acres/AUM=7.5 acres needed/month  5 acres available ÷ 7.5 needed =.67 month (almost 3 weeks)  1.5 months if graze 50% of the time  Will need to feed hay the rest of the year (approx. 10-11 months)

32 Take Home Pointers Acreage owners need to understand their pasture limitations & plan for hay expenses Maximize existing pasture to minimize hay purchases o Sacrifice pen, rotational grazing Purchase hay in large quantities if possible Work with neighbors

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