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The Bluegrass Region of Kentucky has been billed the Horse Capital of the World but this winter many, many horses in the region are starving.
One veterinarian told 27 NEWSFIRST she's never had so many calls in one year about malnourished animals. The problem is a shortage of hay resulting from last summer's drought.
The Kentucky Horse Park just found out Wednesday the company that supplies its hay has run out all together. Purchasing officer Joe Hinton spent a hectic day calling around trying to find a new supplier and finally did come up with one that should be able to meet the park's needs.
The shortage has caused the price of hay to more than double from last year's average price around $5 a bale. The Horse Park naturally will make sure its animals are well fed but for some small time farmers, that's no longer a given.
Tony Dougherty, who buys hay for Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, is also a small farmer, himself, and searches for his own hay every weekend. He says, "This is the worst drought we've had forever and people have hidden all the good hay. I think they're holding onto it until the very end and then the price, just like with gas, is going to go up."
Dougherty went on to explain how the poor quality of hay and straw is causing respiratory issues with horses at some local farms due to all the dust on it.
The Kentucky Horse Council has set up a Horse Hotline for farmers worried about their hay supply. You can call 866-634-0030 for information on availability and price.
Fortunately, spring is just around the corner and the grass is already starting to green up but it may be too late to save some horses that haven't had full bellies in a long, long while.