Skyrocketing hay prices lead to serious problems for horse refug - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Skyrocketing hay prices lead to serious problems for horse refuge center

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Spring Valley (WQOW)- An area center for abused and abandoned horses says rising hay prices have made it too expensive to feed and care for the 21 horses it looks after.    

We've all heard the saying hay is for horses, but at Refuge Farms in Spring Valley, there isn't enough hay to go around. 

"We got frightened last spring when we literally ran out of hay," explains Refuge Farms Executive Director Sandy Gilbert.  "Some had run out in January but even the best of us ran out last spring."

It's a problem many horse owners are struggling with across the state.

"Last year we had a drought go through the state so people used up more of the inventories they had and then now we hit another drought," answers Mark Hagedorn with Eau Claire County's UW-Extension.  "So hay inventories are just incredibly low."

The organization upped its hay budget by 30 percent this year, but found out it wasn't enough.

"When hay came in this year from our exact same supplier, it is the exact same bale of hay for $110 a bale, I didn't know what to do," remembers Gilbert.  "That's a 75 percent increase.  So we were 50 percent short."

So Refuge Farms opened a thrift store in Menomonie hoping to make up the difference. All money goes directly to care for the horses.  And a second idea has recently emerged; a raffle that will take place on Labor Day. Gilbert believes that could be just the ticket to raise some serious dough.

If the center can't come up with at least $9,000 to stock up on hay for the year, some of these horses that have been rescued and now call this place home may have to go.

"We have two options.  We can not rescue this winter, which means we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing," says Gilbert.  "Or we can euthanize the horses at Refuge Farms, which my mind can't even go there.  I can't even go there."

That fundraiser will be happening this Monday at Refuge Farms.  Half of the money raised by ticket sales will be auctioned off and the other half will go directly toward paying for hay.  The cash raffle will begin at 1 p.m. and you do not need to be present to win. Raffle tickets are $55 and $110 a ticket.  The refuge center has rescued more than 900 horses in its existence.

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