We need your help! Hay is life for horses — and hayflation hits hard!

/ In The News, News, Staff Blog

Wild horses eating at RTF’s San Luis Obispo, Calif., satellite sanctuary. Photo by Meg Frederick.

Dear Friends,

As we care for our rescued wild horses and burros for the 26th year since opening Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary, like you, we are reeling from increases in the cost of everything these days.

Of course our biggest financial struggles are rising labor costs and most concerning the high cost of hay — which has at times in the past couple of years increased almost 50% from the year before! This has been devastating when we must feed an average of 450 animals every day.

Thankfully, hay prices have been coming down a bit, and our hay suppliers have recently told me that we should see them come down a bit more — although they will still be significantly higher than what we paid in 2019-2020. Foreign markets overstocked hay they purchased from the United States in 2022, so American hay has been more available to us this year. That factor, the recent increased rainfall and the slight decrease in gas prices results in prices coming down —but it’s hard to say how much, and for how long.

Not everyone who loves animals can start a sanctuary — we all have our individual lives, skills, talents and jobs — but we hope our supporters feel just as much a part of RTF’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary as those of us who work here every day providing direct care to the horses and burros. We have a wonderful staff who appreciate the fact that it is the support from our donors and volunteers that helps keep things going.

As the years pass, many of our long-time residents are older, naturally our special needs and veterinary care has increased along with increasing costs. More than 60 residents are over the age of 26 and doing well because of the good care and feed they receive. Our small team works very hard, through all kinds of weather, to keep quality hay on the ground for over 450 animals and supplementary feed in the feed buckets for the precious older horses.

I’ll be honest — we need your help urgently. This year our hay costs alone will be over $400,000!

We’re working to mitigate costs — since last year, we’ve been implementing a regenerative grazing plan for the sanctuary. Over the next few years, we will be focused on improving the health of our land and the impact from years of drought.

The wild horses and burros at RTF have not missed a meal in 26 years thanks to your support, and no matter what, they must never miss one in the future.

That’s why we ask you, from time to time, to chip in a little (or a lot) so that we have the money in hand to negotiate annual contracts for the best price for good nutritious hay in bulk. We are so grateful for your help… There is no shortage of good causes and organizations with needs — so we work hard to get the best hay deal for our donors’ dollars.

We would never have been able to give this high standard of care to so many wild equines over so many years without our caring, informed and loyal group of supporters. You have never let us down.

As hay costs fluctuate, $28 helps cover the costs of hay and labor to feed hay for one horse for a week.

And if you can spare $28 a month (92 cents a day) or more, your generous gift can provide each month:

  • $28—hay on the ground for one horse for a week
  • $56—hay for one horse for two weeks
  • $112—hay for one horse for one month
  • $1,400—hay for one horse for a full year

We appreciate your support more than you can know, and we just can’t do this big job without you.

You are in our thoughts as we work to keep these rescued wild horses and burros fed and cared for every day in their safe and loving sanctuary.

Thank you with all of our hearts,

To the Wild Ones, and those who stand with (and help feed) them,

Neda DeMayo and All of Us at RTF