Missoula horse rescue struggles with high hay costs

A nonprofit horse rescue in Missoula is asking for donations to cover the escalating cost of hay to feed the animals.

River Pines Horse Sanctuary, located near Maclay Bridge west of town, is currently at maximum capacity with 24 animals. Some have been rescued from situations of extreme abuse or neglect. Others have serious medical conditions or their owners were no longer physically or financially able to care for them. And each animal requires an average of around 5 tons of hay per year. That equates to about 110 tons, or 3,080, bales of hay every 12 months.

The average cost for alfalfa hay in the U.S. reached record highs in 2022, and 2023 has still seen much higher averages than most of the last decade.

Shari Montana, director of River Pines Horse Sanctuary, throws hay into one of the horse pens at the sanctuary on Tuesday.


In fact, the high cost of hay has actually meant more people are calling the organization to say they can’t afford to feed their horses anymore.


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