The Alberta SPCA encourages livestock owners to make arrangements now for winter feed for their animals. This has been a tumultuous year for investigations of underfed livestock in Alberta, particularly for horses. With another year of challenging hay production before us, the Alberta SPCA urges animal owners to seek out and lock in feed immediately to ensure they have an adequate supply.
“Hay conditions have improved this summer due to all the moisture,” said Ken Dean, Director of Animal Protection Services for the Alberta SPCA. “However, the quality of the hay is still an unknown due to all the rain. Owners who wait until the fall or winter to look for high quality feed may find it difficult to buy, and those who do find it will have to pay a premium price.”
Winter & Spring 2019 Were Exceptionally Busy
Over an eight-month period from November 2018 to June 2019, the Alberta SPCA initiated 402 investigations involving neglected horses. A total of 233 horses were taken into protective custody. The Alberta SPCA has spent $187,000 in 2019 to care for those animals. Most have now been rehomed.
In addition, the Alberta SPCA assisted the RCMP in seizing another 65 horses in January. This means the total number of horses seized this winter and spring was just under 300. In many of these cases, there were horses on the property that had already died before we arrived, or had to be euthanized due to their poor health.
“We do not want to see a repeat of 2019 during the upcoming winter,” said Dan Kobe, Communications Manager for the Alberta SPCA. “Owners who do not secure feed now could be putting their animals at risk.”
Horses and other livestock require additional feed to stay warm during the winter. During a prolonged cold snap, animals will see their body condition deteriorate quickly without adequate nutrition.
Once that happens, another increase in feed is required in order for the animals to return to an acceptable weight. Horses, in particular, require high quality feed to maintain a healthy weight.
“If livestock owners cannot afford to feed their animals, they will have to look at reducing their herd before winter arrives,“ added Ken Dean. “‘I can’t find feed,’ or ‘I can’t afford feed,’ are not acceptable excuses for starving your animals.”
Getting Your Feed Tested is Important
Livestock owners are encouraged to get their feed tested to ensure they know the quality of the hay they are providing for their animals. This ensures owners know exactly what they are providing and lets them know if supplements are necessary to compensate for feed that is lacking in nutritional value.
Animal owners who allow their animals to be in distress due to a lack of food or water could face charges under the Animal Protection Act. If convicted, they could face a maximum fine of $20,000, and a lifetime prohibition from owning animals.
To report an animal in distress, call Animal Protection Services at 1-800-455-9003.