“The Rest of the Story…Cost of Feeding Horses” Mindy Hubert, Small Acreage Field Specialist SDSU Extension firstname.lastname@example.org 605-394-1722
Many acreage owners are also new to Horse Ownership
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
Because: they are directly related to the Cost of Feeding Horses Higher stocking rates now= buy more hay later!
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)
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
New Acreage Owners Often: Don’t realize they have over-stocked until excessive damage has occurred
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)
Prevention of Over-stocking is KEY..and cheaper in the long run!
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
Review: Growing / Grazing Season Usually May-September in SD Cool (May-June, Sept.) Warm (July-August)
What About After Grazing Season? Horses/livestock should be removed from pastures once ½ of total annual forage production is removed …
How can you accurately estimate annual production?
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
Where to Purchase Hay Neighbors/ranchers Feed Cooperatives (highest prices) Check newspapers
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
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
Considerations When Purchasing Hay: Small acreage owners: – Equipment to handle hay – Time – Waste (more with round bales) – Financial
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)
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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