According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, Southern states horse owners are enduring one of the most severe (D4) droughts ever, with “abysmal” conditions expected to “persist or intensify” through year’s end.
Its economic impact is estimated at more than $5 billion in losses to the agriculture industry. Those who have already reduced their horse herds are facing hay shortages for those they have left.
In an interview with TheHorse.com, Dave Freeman, MS, PhD, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension equine specialist, said, "Another issue, especially with horses, is the quality of what was harvested is lower than past years.
Unfortunately, there are no quick answers to (hay) cost and anyone can make assumptions on what costs will be as winter progresses, or even if we recover from droughty weather for good production next spring and summer. The question that folks have to address is more long-term.” Horse owners should examine management practices: Reducing hay waste can reduce the amount of hay to be purchased.
Thanks to a new partnership between two companies based in the southern United States -- The Texas Haynet (www.TexasHaynet.com) and Whinny Warmers® Sox For Horses, Inc. -- horse owners can see their hay last longer (usually between 35%-50%), reduce waste 95%, and help rescues save every precious flake of their donations, too.
Sox For Horses, Inc. president, Ray Petterson, says WhinnyWarmers® will donate one Texas Haynet for every five purchased (Texas Haynets are available for just $189 each on www.whinnywarmers.com).
The Texas Haynet was developed by Leslie Davis, at Little Thunder Stables, Inc., an equine rehabilitation center specializing in hoof problems. “Many horses come with founder and laminitis, mostly because of too much sugar and starch in the diet.
To control sugar intake, we soaked coastal hay prior to feeding to leach out excess sugar and starch, but it took away minerals and good components, and was time-consuming. The horses would clean up the allotted hay and stand around waiting for the next feeding. Because this is not good for a grazing animal either, another solution had to be found.”
Research has suggested that slowing down hay consumption, by feeding through a two-inch or less hole, gives the equine liver time to filter excess sugar. Most “slow feeders” are nets or bags designed for hay flakes; Little Thunder Stables fed round bales. So Davis started experimenting with sports netting. Finally, a great netting material was found that could cover round bales, was not abrasive on muzzles, and lasted a year or more:
The Texas Haynet was born. “Healthy things happen when sugar is controlled,” said Davis. “Plus, hay lasts longer – most users report saving fifty percent or more – and the Haynet saves time, no more getting a tractor out to move bales. This product is a win-win for horse and owner.”
Every five Texas Haynets purchased through Sox For Horses will see one Texas Haynet donated to a rescue, continuing Sox For Horse’s win-win tradition of giving, recently donating Whinny Warmers® to Horse Feathers Equine Rescue. Learn more at www.whinnywarmers.com or www.TexasHaynet.com.