How Do You Stretch Those Hay-Buying Dollars?

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In a report that came out last week, hay prices, nationwide, were said to be the highest on record. Reasons included the 30 states in drought conditions last year, the increased acreage given over to corn production (for ethanol purposes), the effects of higher fuel prices on hay growers' own costs, and export demands.

That leaves a lot of us to pinch our hay-buying pennies and to obsess over every stem--not to mention worry about where we'll get more when our stocked-up stashes run out.

For the good of the order, let's share our tips for stretching out the hay budget. Here are a few of mine:

* Feed the messy eaters--the ones who like to paw or fling their hay all over the place before they eat it--from canvas-style hay bags hung at eye height. The hay this saves really adds up over time.

* Recycle the stems left behind by the picky eaters to those who'll happily gobble up anything.

* Cut down on hay rations by supplementing with soaked beet pulp.

* Trade empty stall space for a boarder's extra hay.

* Send one horse out to training over the winter, where he's noshing on someone else's hay supply.

* Swallow hard, and cut the herd numbers--or at least hold back from adding to them.

Your tips?