Belinda Lyall, founder of the B.C Horse Angels, makes daily trips to care for more than 30 horses she has rescued and put up for adoption. She is pictured here with Bunny, a young mare who is just closing in on her first birthday. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Belinda Lyall, founder of the B.C Horse Angels, makes daily trips to care for more than 30 horses she has rescued and put up for adoption. She is pictured here with Bunny, a young mare who is just closing in on her first birthday. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Hay shortage takes its toll on B.C. animal rescues

Bad season for western Canadian hay leads to increasing demand and prices

It has been a year of extremes on the weather spectrum in B.C., and the effects of floods, fires and lengthy fall rains are being felt by farmers and local animal rescue groups.

According to Belinda Lyall, founder of the B.C. Horse Angels, a horse rescue organization in Salmon Arm, a shortage of hay has further complicated the task of feeding and caring for the large number of horses she has rescued and seeks homes for.

“It is mostly due to the weather and the fires. The cattle that normally would be out on the range all summer had to be held back for a year while the range regenerates, so thousands of extra cattle are eating hay,” Lyall says. “Then the smoke this year choked out almost the entire second crop. B.C. normally relies on Alberta when they run out of hay, but they are experiencing the same problems with weather.”

This sentiment is echoed by Shirley Mainprize, who operates the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge near Chase. Normally, the donkeys can graze for a good portion of the year, saving some feed, but in 2018 the conditions were not ideal for grazing.

“We still had snow on the ground in May 2018 behind the barn, which is unheard of as far as I am concerned,” she says. “So it was cold, then it was really hot and we had instant summer. We lost our pastures in June, and we don’t normally put them (the donkeys) out until mid-May in this area.”

Related: B.C. Horse Angels seek to end practice of horse slaughter

This put the donkey refuge in a tough position, unable to put the animals out to pasture and forced into seeking extra hay from an already-limited supply.

“We started looking for hay early and we wrapped it up; when we found it we pre-paid for it. We have over 100 animals in our care, we can’t gamble,” she says.

According to Bill Armstrong, a farmer in the Salmon Arm area who supplies hay to smaller local operations, it wasn’t necessarily a bad growing season that dwindled local hay production, but the weather was terrible for drying the harvested crops.

“This year was tough with the smoke that came over in haying season. The crops were good this year, even though everyone said they weren’t, but with the smoke and no sun you can’t dry it and make hay so a lot of people just went and put it into silage this year,” he says. “Normally I can put hay up in three days in August, but this year it was out for nine days and still didn’t actually dry properly.”

Hay that is not properly dried can still be stored away and made into silage, but Armstrong says this is not a viable solution for most people. Silage can only be kept for a few days at most once removed from the pit or packaging, making it hard to use for anyone without a large, dedicate storage area. He also notes there is waste in terms of packaging and spoiled feed that comes with using silage, making it unappealing for some.

Armstrong also says: “The biggest I noticed was the crops were no good up north, so a few of the bigger buyers came down here and wanted a lot of hay, and even we never had near enough for them.”

In addition to the smoke and dryness of the summer, fall of 2018 was an extremely wet one in the Shuswap, Lyall says, meaning late planting and fall harvests were lower than usual.

“The farmers I talk to have all been saying this is the wettest fall they remember since the 1960s,” she says.

In order to ensure she can feed her animals, Lyall needs to jump at the first available feed – regardless of price.

“The thing is, with the available hay, if you don’t grab it there might not be any to be found come next week,” she says. “The most frustrating part of this is I don’t have my own property, so I can’t get hay in and buy hay when it is cheap and store it.”

Related: More help for donkeys at Turtle Valley

Mainprize says that having a good stock of extra feed is important, but she admits it is not always a cut-and-dried task.

“You never know what kind of year you are going to have,” Mainprize says. “We have always sort of had that in the back of our minds – tomorrow is promised to no one.”

Both of these animal rescues are undertaking their own forms of fundraising to help mitigate the effects of a feed shortage on their operations.

Lyall has been attempting to fundraise as a way to subsidize the now-increasing cost of hay to feed the rescued horses, starting a GoFundMe campaign that has been shared around social media.

Mainprize and the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge, on the other hand, have received some assistance through a BC Gaming grant to build a new well on the property so their pastures can be better irrigated. The refuge needs to come up with half the money for the project, around $50,000, with plans for a series of fundraising initiatives in 2019.

“We are just doing the final touches and kicking off our program hopefully by April 1, starting with a cookbook. We are sending it out to our donors looking for tried, true, go-to recipes. We always do a raffle every year and will be doing that as well, and there will probably be a couple of events at the farm as fundraisers,” Mainprize says.


 

@Jodi_Brak117
jodi.brak@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Shirley Mainprize of the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge. (Image contributed)

Shirley Mainprize of the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge. (Image contributed)

The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge hosts a yoga with the donkeys fundraising event on Sept. 17, 2018. (File photo)

The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge hosts a yoga with the donkeys fundraising event on Sept. 17, 2018. (File photo)

Hay shortage takes its toll on B.C. animal rescues

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

A Salvation Army bell is rung by Michael Cronin as he staffs the charity’s red donation kettle in front of a grocery store, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, in Lynden, Wash. The familiar ringing of handbells has gone silent at many Canadian shopping malls this year as the Salvation Army tries to cope with COVID-19 rules at a time of dropping donations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elaine Thompson
Record-breaking Christmas for Vernon Salvation Army

$640K and significant food donations pour into local organization ahead of holidays

A 2002 F350 was stolen from a Whitevale home sometime overnight Jan. 14. (Contributed)
Truck stolen near Lumby overnight

Lifted Ford stolen from Whitevale Road

Nate Brown photo
Okanagan-Shuswap says goodbye sunshine, hello winter

Temperatures are forecasted to drop by mid-next week

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Washington. The President is traveling to Texas. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Black Press Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

In case you missed it, here’s what made waves throughout the week

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
13 more cases of COVID-19 tied to Big White Mountain cluster

This brings the total case count to 175, of which 32 cases are active

RCMP on scene at a home on Sylvania Cres. (Phil McLachlan /Capital News/FILE)
Two Kelowna men arrested after Rutland home invasion

Two Kelowna men, including a prolific offender, facing slew of potential charges

Real estate sales in the South Okanagan grew by more than any other part of the province in 2020. (Marissa Tiel - Black Press)
South Okanagan fastest growing real estate market in B.C.

There was over $1 billion in residential sales in 2020

Most Read