Thousands of producers desperate for hay have turned to social media to find livestock feed.
Cindy Wilinski of Okotoks, Alta., set up Hay List 2015 on Facebook intending to help acreage owners find hay for their horses at an affordable price.
“It just absolutely snowballed from there and so many people have entered the database,” said Wilinski, a horse breeder who also runs about 40 cows near Okotoks.
Cattle producers looking for 10 truckloads of hay have signed on, as well as small operators who need hay because their pastures dried up in the heat this summer.
She contacted the Ontario organizers of Hay West who donated hay from Eastern Canada to the Prairies in 2002. That group put her in touch with farmers who may have feed available and she made a deal with a trucking company to offer free shipping from Brandon to Edmonton.
Hay has also been found in South and North Dakota, Illinois and Montana.
The Facebook page also offers the formation of a buyers’ co-operative, which people can join to buy hay and share freight costs.
Wilinski said she may need the service herself later this season.
“I don’t have a stem of hay on my property right now.”
Her animals are on pasture thanks to timely rain, but she will have to look for hay later this year.
She worries people are being taken advantage of during a time of shortage. She said she does not expect anyone to give feed away but said selling a large round bale for $250 is excessive.
“We are providing options to avoid those people who are actually trying to flip the hay and charging more than necessary out of greed,” she said.
During an Aug. 6 news conference, Alberta agriculture minister Oneil Carlier said no plans were in place to control the price of hay.
“It is too early to speculate what programs we can look at later in the year,” he told reporters.