Summer Hay Expense

One of the most important things we’re trying to do with this website is identify the expenses involved with horse ownership so new horse owners know what to expect. I now know how much we’re spending on hay for our two horses during the summer months. Back on May 22nd of this year we secured a load of hay that will last until tomorrow, August 22. Here are the facts:

Purchase date: 5/22/06
Quantity: 40 square bales (30 lbs. each)
Cost: $1 per bale/$40 total
Additional expense: $20 gasoline
Total cost without gas: $40
Total cost with gas: $60
Supply longevity: 93 days

Base on those figures, here’s how the hay cost breaks down:

Bales used per day: .43 or 2/5th’s total per day
Cost per day w/o gas: $.43 total or $.22 per horse
Cost per day w/gas: $.66 or $.33 per horse

So that’s pretty good! If only hay cost $1 per bale all year.

Now here’s a little background on this hay purchase. We live in east Tennessee and know someone whose mom has a farm and raises hay. She had some hay from the previous year that was dry and in good shape. Our friend feeds this hay to all of her horses including a pregnant mare who foaled this summer. The hay was $1 a bale partially because it was cut last year and they wanted to make room for the new cutting. We think that the price next time will be more like $2.50 for fresher hay but will detail that expense when we get to it. Our horses ate the older hay for 3 months and seemed fine with it. We didn’t find any mold and it held together nicely.

One of the other reasons the hay expense per day is so little in the summer is that our horses graze in our pasture for most of each day, eating fresh green grass. Our winter hay expense will be considerably higher since they’ll spend more time at the barn and there won’t be new grass growing in the pasture.

Now here we are nearing the end of summer and are starting to plan for our winter supply. Our plan is to build an inexpensive loft in an unused stall and to purchase less expensive summer hay in bulk. If there is a second hay cutting in our area, we’ll try and pick up square bales in the field to keep expenses even lower. We may even supplement our supply with a large round bale ($25 for 1,000 pounds) that we’d keep in the old barn. We don’t want to be stuck paying $4.50 a bale at the end of winter, like this past year.

I’ll update the Horse Expense List on the site with this new info.

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