• Stephanie O'Hanley

Hay shortage: Donations urgently needed for Refuge RR


One of the 72 horses Refuge RR cares for. The animal rescue urgently seeks donations to cover its feeding costs after a shortage led to a doubling of the cost of hay.

It’s been a rough spring and summer for Refuge RR, (Refuge, Retire and Rehabilitate), an animal rescue organization based in Alexandria, Ontario that provides a permanent home for 72 abused, neglected and abandoned horses and for any domestic or farm animal in need of a home.

The federally registered charity urgently needs donations to help cover hay costs to feed its horses.

First a spring drought led to a hay shortage that caused hay prices to double at a time when the refuge already found it hard to pay $1200 to $1500 weekly for hay.

“There are times when hay does go up but usually in the summer, from spring to fall we have a reduction in the price because the hay is available, we get it from different farmers and it’s a lot cheaper,” said Rose Gergely, Refuge RR’s president, treasurer and operator.

The price of hay varied during the summer when farmers had more hay available, Gergely said. “One farmer was up to about $16.50 (per bale) but now the cost they’re charging is probably about $30 per bale so it’s a lot more expensive.”

The refuge found a farmer whose regular price for hay was a little higher than what they usually paid and who had stored months of hay for their horses. But as the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition wrote in an August 7 appeal, Refuge RR’s situation then went from “bad to disastrous.”

“His (the farmer’s) barn just burnt down a month ago and all our hay went with it,” said Gergely. “We kind of got screwed on that side, he would have had four months of hay but now we’re not going to have that at all because his barn burnt down.”

The refuge managed to find “a little hay” to last them until they need to buy from the Eastern Townships, where “quite a bit of hay” is available, Gergely said. But it’s going to cost about $4,000 to bring hay from the Eastern Townships on a transport truck, she said.

Gergely points out that while hay is plentiful in the Eastern Townships and northeastern Quebec, “it’s just a matter of getting it” since there’s demand from the United States and hay dealers can fetch $100 a bale for hay. With hay prices rising, Gergely anticipates huge costs. “For us to last till next spring to hopefully get us tied over and have hay, it will be over $85,000,” Gergely said.

“We know we’re not the only ones,” she added. “We know that there’s other farmers in the area that are actually getting rid of their cows because they don’t have enough hay so then they’re going to sell their hay once they don’t have their cows and there are a lot of horses that are being shipped to auction because (farmers) say they can’t afford (hay) or they can’t find it.”

Help from the public will make all the difference, Gergely said. “We really, really need it to get through to next spring. We’re hoping for a nice spring next year, lots of hay at a good price.”

If you can help, here are a few ways to donate:

To donate online via Canada Helps, visit www.refugerr.org/How-to-help

Or mail a cheque to: 21305 Concession 10, RR 2, Alexandria, ON, K0C 1A0

One of Refuge RR’s supporters created a GoFundMe campaign, available here: https://www.gofundme.com/2ej23ks

To reach Refuge RR, email refugerr@xplornet.ca

Gergely stresses that while people who donate via Canada Helps or mail a donation will get charitable tax receipts, Refuge RR can’t issue tax receipts for GoFundMe donations.

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