With over 215, 000 horses on over 41, 000 operations in Virginia (USDA/NASS 2007), the horse industry is an important segment that should be considered when it comes to making, buying, and selling hay. An understanding of what horse owners want may help hay producers create a product that will sell more quickly at a premium price and aid in the retention of customers. To this end, a survey of horse owners was conducted during the 2008 Piedmont Horse Expo held in Culpeper, VA, to determine hay quality and other preferences. One-hundred twelve surveys were collected and results tallied to give the following information.
Horses and Grazing Land
Respondents owned or cared for one to twenty or more horses, with 67% of the owners only having one to five animals. While 68% of owners used pasture as a major component in their feeding programs, another 24% acknowledged that they used it at least part of the year as a primary forage source. Despite this, 71% of owners fed hay year round. Furthermore, owners were asked their average stocking rate and available acres for grazing. The majority of owners (74%) reported two acres or less per horse. Less than half (48%) had more than 10 acres of grazing land for their horses.
Hay Purchasing Practices
When asked about their hay purchasing practices, 21% of equine owners reported making their own hay while 58% wrote in that they purchased direct from local farmers and 9% purchased it from out-of-state. None of the respondents purchased hay from an auction. An overwhelming majority, 85%, preferred purchasing small square bales as opposed to large squares (1%) or round bales (12%). The amount of hay purchased varied, with 44% purchasing between 100-300 square bales annually and 35% purchasing over 300 square bales annually. Purchase of round bales ranged from one to over 25, with 30% of respondents falling into the 25 or more round bales annually category. Finally, 29% reported being able to store up to a three month supply of hay, with 7% of those only being able to store less than a two week supply. Only 10% could store enough hay to meet their needs for a year or more.
Type of Hay Preferred and Price
Additionally, owners were questioned about their preferred type of hay and cutting choices. Thirty-two percent (32%) of the respondents preferred orchard grass, with mixed grass and timothy at 23% and 22%, respectively, and only 6% reported using alfalfa. Second cutting hay was preferred by 40% of owners. Finally, the equine owners were asked the average price they paid for their hay during the last year. The average price for a square bale was $5.99 and $49.73 for round bales. Prices ranged, however, from $2.00 - $9.00 for square bales and $20.00 - $80.00 for round bales.
How is the Mn Horse expo?
I wanted to go the big azz world horse expo and didn't make it (yet). I did manage to go to the Peruvian Paso Nationals in Tx, years ago. It was a blast!!!! I still have a T shirt from it. I refuse to throw it out. lol.
A few hundred years ago I went to the Kansas City Royal. :D
No I didn't go to ride, I was totally a spectator. It was a good thing, I'd have fell off a lot due to all my rubber necking.
I know of one place you might be
Able to volunteer.
Have you ever attended the MN Horse Expo? It is held every year (3rd weekend in April) at the MN State Fairgrounds.
One year, I volunteered to walk horses for the children's pony rides. It just consisted of walking around and around, leading a horse with kids on them.
This would at least give you an opportunity to meet some other horse-centric people. Express your interest in volunteering, and get to know some people in the horse world.
I can find you a link if you are interested?