After a very wet spring and a dry summer, the Minnesota Hay Bank is fielding more calls come in from people who need help paying for hay -- and they are also bailing out a hoofed rescue group in Zimmerman, Minn.
Drew Fitzpatrick, a beneficiary, told Fox 9 News that if it weren't for the Minnesota Hay Bank, things may be a little different for donkeys Helen and Wait.
"I named them Helen and Wait because I said that, 'If this guy wants to make jerky out of these donkeys, he can go to hell n' wait," Fitzpatrick explained.
Fitzpatrick is also the founder of Minnesota Hoofed Animal Rescue in Zimmerman, MN. She has rescued anywhere from 120 to 200 animals each year for the past 20.
"A lot of people are just saying, 'You know, the horse thing isn't worth it," she said.
The rising cost of hay by the bale is a major reason some are leaving horses to languish in inhumane conditions.
"A small square bail which could feed one horse for one day a few years ago may have been priced at $3.50 to $4," Stacy Bettison founder of the Minnesota Hay Bank, explained. "Now, we're seeing it on average between $6 and $10 dollars."
The big boosts in prices are blamed on economic and political factors involving the profitability of soy and corn. This has led some farmers bail on hay – increasing both prices and demand.
"The hay has doubled in price, at least. It's hard to get," affirmed Fitzpatrick.
The Hay Bank is contributing $2,750 to Drew's animal rescue. This way, Fitzpatrick can have an extra cushion for hay funds and allocate other money to veterinary care to help more animals.
The Minnesota Hay Bank was established 11 months ago. The non-profit just started stockpiling tons of hay at Canterbury Park -- just another example of how equine enthusiasts are trotting out solutions together in order to keep horses healthy.
Horses and other hay-eating animals are said to eat more hay during the cold winter months. It's estimated about 3,100 horses will be in need this winter. An average horse eats 20 lbs of hay per day.
With the help of a $5,000 loan, the Minnesota Hay Bank has purchased and stockpiled 20 tons of horse-quality hay -- but the load will only feed about 50 horses for 40 days. That's why representatives are now reaching out for contributions.
"They're out in the cold, they're out in the wind, and they need to be remembered as we celebrate the bounty," said Bettison.
To donate, visit www.minnesotahaybank.org.