The cost of keeping horses has been rising for some time now, but last year was an especially bad one when it came to finding hay. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, hay stocks fell to the lowest point they’d seen in a decade and in December 2022 were at their lowest since 1954. After a dry late summer and fall in many places, some 37 percent of the country is still considered to be in “extreme drought” conditions, with even more sitting at milder drought ratings despite recent precipitation.
According to statistics presented at a webinar hosted by the American Horse Council, the average cost of grass hay is up to $109 per ton nationally while alfalfa has climbed to $143 per ton. (This varies widely depending on where in the country you are.)
AHC President Julie Broadway said that hay prices and availability are subject to a variety of drivers, from the weather to fuel costs to fertilizer expenses and even the pricing/demand for hay from foreign countries that import it for their grazing animals.