Equine charities are the latest to face massive feed bills due to poor crops of hay.

Last year, the Horse Trust spent just £450 on hay and haylage, producing most of it themselves.

But this year, after obtaining only a third of the usual hay yield, the charity is facing a bill of more than £24,000.

“This is very worrying — we have never faced such a large shortfall,” said yard manager Shirley Abbott.

Other charities are also feeling the pinch.

Bristol-based HorseWorld said it spent more on hay over the past eight months than in the whole of 2009.

“Some of our horses could now cost £1,000 to feed in hay alone over the next 12 months,” said HorseWorld’s Jerry Watkins.

World Horse Welfare is normally self-sufficient in hay, but this year its yields were down by 50%, forcing the charity’s flagship Hall Farm centre to buy in 1,000 bales.

Charities are also concerned that the increased hay costs could cause a rise in welfare cases.

“We encourage owners to plan ahead and buy hay now, before prices go up and hay becomes scarce,” added World Horse Welfare’s Tony Tyler.

• To donate funds or hay, visit the charities’ websites.