Ditch Hay - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 07-21-2010, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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Ditch Hay

Anyone feed ditch hay? Anything to watch for if buying ditch hay? I was just curious. How would you know that grass hay you are buying actually came from a field and not a ditch?

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post #2 of 11 Old 07-21-2010, 04:34 PM
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Are you talking hay that was baled after the grass beside a road was cut? I would be very uncomfortable feeding something like that because there is no way to tell what all kinds of little pieces of metal or glass or other foreign objects could be in there. To make sure that I didn't get ditch hay, I would buy from a private person who bales their hay out of their own fields instead of the hay that was sitting outside the local feed store unless they can guarantee where the hay came from.

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post #3 of 11 Old 07-21-2010, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, grass that was baled on the side of a road. Where I am we are very rural and so I would not be too concerned with a bunch of garbage being in it. Even so, I am apprehensive about it. But how would you know if it was ditch hay or field hay, if the person you are buying from says it is field hay? Could you really tell the diff? We are new to the area and don't have a supplier, so I have to buy what I can find. And I was just curious. I am sure a lot of people feed ditch hay, but that is just a hunch.

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post #4 of 11 Old 07-21-2010, 06:51 PM
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If you are a little bit unsure about whether the seller is being honest or not, just make sure that you check it very carefully either before you feed flakes off of it (square bales) or check it once or twice a day for debris (round bale).

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post #5 of 11 Old 07-21-2010, 07:59 PM
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Even when I was a kid we didn't let the horses graze on the roadsides. Too much pesticide residue from the field crops. Hay would scare me for the same reason.
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post #6 of 11 Old 07-22-2010, 10:07 PM
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Eh, be careful. We've fed it before and I sure as heck wouldn't free feed it - we shucked up chunks to throw in the pasture, and let me tell you, by the time I was done I was ready to call the police and report a dead child. We found EVERYTHING in there - styrofoam, kids jacket, kids boot (just one), kids pants, pieces of wood, a piece of a tire, broken headlight plastic, etc.

It did in a pinch and the hay itself wasn't bad (no real nutritional value, we fed tons because it was so fine), but definitely sift through it with a fine tooth comb if you absolutely HAVE to feed it. We only ordered a couple bales because we couldn't fine anything else in the middle of winter and it was like a dang Crackerjack box of pony death!

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post #7 of 11 Old 07-22-2010, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by BigGreyHorse View Post
Even when I was a kid we didn't let the horses graze on the roadsides. Too much pesticide residue from the field crops. Hay would scare me for the same reason.
You think half the crop hay we feed isn't covered in it? What about straw which is derived from crops specifically under use of pesticides? Cropland is typically in quite close quarters - chances are if it's in the ditch hay, it's in the quality stuff to just from proximity or better yet, the fact that we have no real regulations barring them from putting pesticides on hay - it's just ADVISED not too.

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post #8 of 11 Old 07-23-2010, 04:33 PM
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I would avoid feeding ditch hay if at all possible. I live in a very very rural area, and you would not believe the amount of garbage that people toss along our road. It's really terrible around summer holiday weekends when tourists sail through on the way to their camp/cabin properties, tossing garbage all the way in and out. We cut our own hay, and Dad just runs a brush cutter along the road-side of the field about 15 feet in to make it look nice. Not only is there a danger of baling the garbage, but beer bottles are tough on the haybine/tedder/rake/baler. If you must feed ditch hay, check it well each feeding. Checking each bale thoroughly is a good idea anyway, in case mold forms; also a not-good situation.

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post #9 of 11 Old 08-03-2010, 12:25 PM
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Never heard of it, but by what everyone else says I wouldn't even think about getting them. Surely there has to be some alternative?

As for knowing if it came from a field and not a ditch, look for local farmers that bale their own hay. When we find a new place to get hay, we go and check out the haying field and then if we like it we will load it up ourselves (saves on delivering costs). If the farm is off a little ways from the road then I seriously doubt that they will bale the ditchs.

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post #10 of 11 Old 08-03-2010, 01:19 PM
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I feed ditch hay.. But I also help bale the hay I'm feeding and know exactly where its coming from. Occasionally we'll find the odd bit of garbage here and there, but its never been enough that I was terribly concerned about it.

It really doesn't have much nutritional value, as someone pointed out, but my horses are given good mixed hay two times a day and since I keep my horses on a dry lot, they have free choice ditch hay (usually) all the time.

You should always be checking any hay you get, so of course, check this as well. As MacabreMikolaj pointed out, cropland is all fairly close, so I wouldn't over-think what pesticides and such would be on this compared to hay grown in a field. Its probably close to the same.

As for knowing the difference.. Ask out-right to see where the hay was baled. There's always the risk that he won't be honest, but hopefully he would be.
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