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Horse owners feeling the squeeze since hay prices have tripled

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A soggy spring and dry autumn have made it harder to find hay in Minnesota ... and where it is found, the cost of a bale is enough to choke to horse.

A University of Minnesota extension specialist tells WCCO-AM sticker shock is a common malady among farmers and ranchers hoping to stock up on hay for the winter.

“I think a number of these farmers are either unprepared to deal with this situation, or they aren’t yet fully aware of how serious it is,” Krisona Martinson tells the radio station. WCCO says cases of animal neglect and abuse have soared, with the Minnesota Humane Society reporting a 400 percent increase in a year.

The Perham Focus reports an Otter Tail County couple was sentenced to jail time this month after six horses were found dead on their property near Vergas. Last month a western Wisconsin man was charged with 34 counts of animal mistreatment after four dead horses were found on his land.

The Minnesota Hay Bank is accepting donations as it works to make hay and feed available to horse owners who need help. WCCO says the Bank has purchased 20 tons of hay for a "food shelf for horses."

This year the University of Minnesota developed mobile apps to help ranchers compare hay prices and calculate how much their animals need.

Here's a look at the minimum requirements for owning an equine as laid out in a state law, the Minnesota Pet and Companion Animal Welfare Act.

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