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Hay dropped to starving horses at Montana ranch

Associated Press Modified: January 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm •  Published: January 28, 2011

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A helicopter on Thursday airlifted 10 tons of hay, and deputies hauled even more to a ranch east of Billings where hundreds of horses are starving.

The Billings Gazette reports that small bands of horses started eating the hay when the bales broke up on impact. The hay was expected to last a few days, until colder weather hardens roads enough to drive more to the animals.

The horses belong to James H. Leachman, who was supposed to remove them last July when his business, Leachman Cattle Co., lost the ranch at a federal foreclosure sale. He ran a horse breeding business called Hairpin Cavvy.

Five horses have died. A Montana veterinarian has warned that others would start dying if they did not receive food.

Sheriff Mike Linder, who drove a loaned tractor, said the volunteer response has been great.

"I spent three hours on the phone, and, in three hours, the hitch was being built, I had the tractor and the helicopter lined up," he said.

Al Blain, who owns Billings Flying Service with his brother, said an estimated 300 to 400 horses gathered in the drop area.

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