Nov 12, 2012 9:47 PM by Eric Ross

Owners abandoning livestock as hay prices skyrocket

COLORADO SPRINGS- The Humane Society for the Pikes Peak Region is preparing to see an increase in the number of animal abuse cases as hay prices continue to rise.

Like many farmers and ranchers, Verne Bixler is constantly in search of new suppliers to haul hay into the region.

It's a problem with no quick fix.

Although he's one of the few local suppliers in Colorado Springs with the valuable commodity, he expects to sell Monday's supply within the next week.

"The state can't supply to hay needs for the livestock industry," he said. "We have to go buy elsewhere."

Because he and many other suppliers have to buy out of state, the extra expense ends up being passed down to the consumer.

Prices have soured nearly 30-percent in the last year, leaving animal owners with few options.

"We've impounded over 60 horses this year," Officer Joe Stafford said. "Horses are a difficult animal to maintain. It's not as easy as having a dog. People are unable to keep up with that huge expense."

The Humane Society is currently caring for two donkeys who are also big hay eaters.

Meanwhile, animal rescue shelters continue pushing their capacity to take in new animals.

"We expect this winter to be rough," Stafford said. "The supply of hay is low and the cost is high."

It's this type of news which has many suppliers on edge and holding on to hope that hay will harvest again in the spring.

Currently, it can cost in excess of $600 per month to feed and care for one horse.

The Hay Bank in Parker, Colorado is just one organization helping farmers in need.

Although they can't help everyone, they have provided more than 1,500 bales of hay to horse owners throughout our region.

Meanwhile, most rescue shelters throughout southeastern Colorado will continue taking in new animals.

Livestock owners who starve or abandon their bands on the side of a road or highway could face criminal charges and a hefty fine if caught.

Like all animal organizations, the Humane Society is in desperate need of donations with high food costs.

If you'd like to help them out or find more information about their services, call 473-1741.

You can also visit them on the web at



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