Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: East Central Illinois
SO SORRY for the hay prices in your area!! **hugs**
Saddlebag said "oat straw", not "oats." To reiterate, a University of IL Vet told me about 12 years ago, that his father raised show Shires and wintered them on exclusively oat straw, so it can be done.
We broke our drought here in IL, so our local hay prices have leveled off at about $8/50-65 lb square bale. My hay guy is working on a 5th cutting, and he told me that he's baled/sold over 40,000 bales this year. I'm betting that, like my hay man, who shipped a semi-load to a friend in AR, people here will be shipping hay W and SW during the winter. The extreme shortage is, maybe, a little bit less extreme. Even so, a bunch of farmers who grew corn this year gave up on the meager harvest and have baled it for cattle, in those big round bales covered with plastic, the typical "cow hay" look. I'll have to get some pictures. I have NEVER SEEN them do it here before, but my family saw that mid-summer in KS.
May I suggest that you start buying alfalfa cubes in 50 lb bags and storing those in your basement or garage, if you have to. I supplemented my hay with those last winter bc I had bought lightweight bales--40 pounders--and I could tell it wasn't going to see me through. If your stores are like mine, expect the best sale of the Fall/Winter to be NEXT WEEK.
Also, if you have feed bags to use, your horses will waste a whole lot less bc they work on it until they eat all of their grain. You can feed alfalfa cubes in those, too.
Just remember this, when, in a few years, people new to horses are telling you how picky they are about the hay they feed. You cannot afford to be fussy about the hay mix, when it's scarce, which is what I've lived through before, and have been telling folks for years now. As long as it's not moldy, and not totally stemmy, you can feed it. Custer's horses were reduced to eating birch bark on one of his winter campaigns, but they didn't starve to death during the campaign.
Praying for you to get what you need for this winter. =D