About four years ago, I wrote an article about how much it costs to keep a horse. Prices rarely drop, so what can we expect to pay to keep a horse over the next year. Hereís a look at some basic costs.
One of the biggest expenses horse owners face is buying hay. Again, hay prices can fluctuate wildly and a lot of different factors affect the price. A bad year for hay ó too wet or dry, can cause prices to skyrocket. You can expect the price of hay to at least double in midwinter, compared to the cost of the same hay bought off the field in summer. Gas prices affect hay so that affects the cost of harvesting and shipping.
The value of other crops affects hay prices. It may be more profitable for farmers to grow a different crop like corn, soy or canola, so supplies become more scarce. Milk prices can affect hay prices since the hay that is fed to dairy cattle is pretty much the same hay that horse owners value. Even demand from other countries can affect hay prices at home.
Small bales may be more costly than large bales because there is more handling involved. And, buying in one large quantity can be more cost effective than buying small amounts as you go through the year.
For those in the U.S. you have a good guideline for pricing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hay Reports break down the forage prices by state. Elsewhere, horse owners will have to ask growers their price. But, as an example, premium hay sells for about $200 USD per ton. Horse owners can expect to pay a bit more, especially if buying in small quantities. So you might expect a low average to be about $5 per small bale or around $30 to $40 for a large round bale. The price can easily be much higher, however. The hay harvest for the 2018 season has just started as I write this, and much will depend on what mother nature has in store for us over the summer months. But letís use the low average, feeding about a half a bale a day to our smallish pleasure riding horse. Thatís a cost of 2.50 per day.
Grain and Supplements
Like hay, grain prices can be affected by many factors. A bag of pelleted feed weighing just under 50lbs costs me about $30. How long it lasts depends on the amount fed of course, but letís say we are only feeding as a supplement, rather than to put on weight, increase stamina or for growth. A bag then will last about three weeks. That comes to about $38 a month.
Salt is still cheap. A simple bag or block can be bought for about $15 although youíll pay more for the fancy type. Basic mineral mixes can cost about $20 and last for months. If youíre feeding something like a hoof growth supplement, expect to pay a lot more.
Youíd have difficulty finding a farrier that will trim for less than $30 and many charge $50 or more. And shoeing fronts will cost at least $150. That means a low average for farrier work will cost you at least $30 every six or seven weeks but will easily cost more.
Iím hopping mad that where I live, you will not be able to buy deworming medication off of the shelf shortly. That cost was about $15 for a tube of deworming paste. Deworming will now be done under the supervision of a veterinarian ó and so far the cost is unknown. In the U.S. you can buy deworming paste for about $10 and youíll probably use it a minimum of 3 times a year.
Dental Work And Vaccines
Your horse will need dental work about once a year. Some need more. You can still count on about $150 for this service. The price of vaccinations hasnít gone up drastically recently. You can still count on about $125 a year for this.
So letís look at the totals using the lowest averages:
Hay (low average): $915
Grain and Supplements: $456
What do you think? Does this reflect what you are paying? Are you able to spend less? Or, are you faced with much higher costs?
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