Hay shortage affects Alberta horse rescue

Tracy Benkendorf is asking the public for donations to help her get through the winter because of the high cost of feed

Potential feed shortages this year aren’t only affecting farmers and ranchers — they are also taking a toll on at least one Alberta horse rescue operation.

Tracy Benkendorf, who runs the Adorado Nino Horse Rescue and Sanctuary near Leduc, Alta., said she’s worried she might not have enough hay to get the horses through the winter because of high prices and shortages.

“Because there has been a scarcity, it’s causing people to panic. For me, the shortage is a little bit scary,” Benkendorf said.

“I can’t seem to hang onto it (hay), even though I’m conserving it the best I can.”

Benkendorf said she needs 30 to 40 bales, as well as a number of square bales, each month. She is used to dealing with prices of around $70 per bale, but she said she’s been having to buy some as expensive as $125.

Prices on the Alberta government’s hay, straw and pasture listings as of Oct. 1 ranged from $60 to $175 per bale.

“I’m not close to having as much as I need,” she said.

“When you’re in a year like this, it’s tough. It’s challenging for everybody.”

Benkendorf has been running the sanctuary, a non-profit, for about nine years. She said this is the first year she’s called on people to donate whatever they can so she can get her 76 rescue horses through the winter.

“A little help does go a long way,” she said, noting she’s already received some donations.

“It’s been really heartwarming. I couldn’t thank them enough.”

Benkendorf started the rescue as a way to stop horse meat buyers from nabbing the animals at auctions. Most of her horses come from auctions, where she outbids horse meat buyers. Others have been given to her directly by owners who could no longer care for them.

She said she’s particularly compassionate toward horses and feels that they don’t deserve to be slaughtered. She will do whatever it takes to get her animals through the winter.

“Sending them back to the auction is not an option,” she said.

“I just can’t do that. I’ve helped them get out of there and I will do everything I can for them.”

Benkendorf said she has a home-based business that helps her make ends meet. As part of the rescue, she has also tried adopting out some of the horses to families who might want to take them in.

“We would love to adopt them to really good homes,” she said.

“We are here to provide for the ones that are with us. I want to see them do well and have a good quality of life.”

She said she would like to go to auctions this year, suspecting there will be more for sale because of hay shortages, but she likely won’t go due to her feed circumstances.

People looking to get in touch or help Benkendorf can visit her website at www.adoradonino.org.

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