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First emergency hay arrives for 700 Montana horses

January 26, 2011

The first hay has arrived at a Montana ranch where concerns have been raised over the welfare of up to 700 horses estimated to be on the property.

Some of the Leachman horses near Billings in Montana. has been reporting extensively on the plight of the horses and efforts to provide them feed.

It reports that the first hay reached the animals on Tuesday, thanks to the Valley M Ranch in Red Lodge. They delivered 10 tonnes of hay from the Beartooth Mountains to the property, the former Leachman Cattle Co. Home Place.

The ranch owners have pledged 100 tonnes of hay to help the horses - enough to keep the animals fed for about two weeks.

Water has also been trucked to the property and helicopter operators have pledged help to fly hay into horses in the more remote parts of the property.

The horses are roaming on about 40,000 acres, and their numbers are estimated at between 350 and 700. The animals are scattered widely over the former Leachman ranch, surrounding ranches, and Crow Tribal lands.

Other feed is being trucked to the property, and will be given to the horses under veterinary supervision, with the neediest getting attention first.

The Northern International Livestock Exposition has been co-ordinating help for the horses, and offers have been pouring in.

It is working with the Yellowstone County Sheriff's on Operation Home Place to help the horses, owned by James H. Leachman, 69, of Billings.

Veterinarian Jeff Peila warned earlier this week that the horses would start dying in droves within the next two weeks unless help was given.

The Yellowstone County Attorney's Office has filed five primary misdemeanour counts of animal cruelty and five alternative counts against Leachman, who lost the property last year in a foreclosure sale organised by the US Marshals Service.

A neighbouring rancher bought the property, but does not own the horses.

Neighbours and those concerned about the horses attended a meeting on Monday with Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito to discuss the issue.

"This has been going on for a long time," said Jay Stovall, who bought the Leachman property. "I'm so happy that you all came together, because these horses have been in bad shape for a long time."



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