Moldy hay? Signs and what to do...

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Moldy hay? Signs and what to do...

This is a discussion on Moldy hay? Signs and what to do... within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • How can you tell hay is moldy
  • How to tell if horse hay is old

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    11-30-2012, 06:49 AM
Moldy hay? Signs and what to do...

I was wondering if someone could help me. I have some older hay sitting in my storage shed. And I'm having a hard time telling if it's good enough to give to my horses. I don't think it looks moldy, & it smells like dust.. But I don't have experience with moldy hay and I'm a concerned mom.

What are the signs of moldy hay? Pictures to help? At what point do you not give it to your horses, and what signs should you look out for?

This is small square hay bales. Thanks so much! Any information on this is much needed!
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    11-30-2012, 07:08 AM
Green Broke
If it just smells dusty, there shouldn't be a problem. When you can smell mold, definitely check the bale thoroughly. If there's just a little mold on the outside, like on the bottom if it was laying on the ground, just pull that part off the bale. If you can smell mold in the bale, make sure to open the bale before giving it to them. If there is mold on the inside of the bale, throw it away. Usually, horses will not touch moldy hay, unless there is nothing else to eat.
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    11-30-2012, 07:20 AM
Great thanks! I don't think I smell mold, but what does it smell like? And I broke it apart and it looked ok. I did shake it out very well when I gave them some because it was pretty dusty.
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    11-30-2012, 07:29 AM
Great thanks! I don't think I smell mold, but what does it smell like? And I broke it apart and it looked ok. I did shake it out very well when I gave them some because it was pretty dusty.
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    11-30-2012, 08:13 AM
Green Broke
You will know the smell of mold when you stick your nose in the bale - lol

I can't describe it but if you can sniff something that's been in your refrigerator a long time, and know it's moldy, you will recognize the obtrusive odor of mold in hay.

If it's really bad, the hay will often have a gray or black shade the mold spores literally pop up at you when you break a bale open.

How old is "older hay" ?? The older hay is, the less nutrients it has. I have fed two year old hay without issue and I've heard others say three year old hay is good; provided the hay were stored properly and didn't get wet.

If the bales have dust on them from sitting, take them outside and give them a vigorous sweeping (on all sides) with a broom.

I would smell every single flake of hay for mold before feeding. If hay was baled damp, it is not uncommon for only part of the bale to mold.

You can also Google "how to tell if hay is moldy" and get some credible hits.

The bottom line is don't feed questionable hay just to save money as it may be a vet bill in the end.

Hope this helps
    11-30-2012, 08:27 AM
It's about a year old. I'm definitely checking every flake. I bought a house in April and brought the horses from my moms property to the new one. They had so much pasture I didn't need to feed any hay over summer so forgot about the Hay in her barn. She told me she thinks the hay got wet and is moldy. But most of it is on pallets. So I checked every bale, the ones by the wall looked a bit off in color and probably got wet from a small leak in the wall. But everything else seemed fine. I think she just wanted to keep the rest of the hay for her chicken coop ;)
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    11-30-2012, 01:29 PM
Just pull the mold and feed the rest. Hay loses nutrition for the first year it is stored--if not fed before then. After a year the nutrition loss is marginal. THIS is why I prefer, when I can, to buy year old straight alfalfa. Alfalfa is very rich hay and is very nutritious at a year old, or even older, just not as rich. You can tell that there is alfalfa in your hay bc your horses will pee pink. Your horse will not touch moldy hay unless he is starving, anyway, so I wouldn't worry. In the stall it just becomes soiled bedding.
    11-30-2012, 03:15 PM
I have a pretty good alarm system for smells, well, moldy, musty. When you open the bale it should expand once the strings are cut. If it doesn't, there's most likeky mold in there. If it got wet from the outside, it's usually black. If it was too moist when baled, it's greyish-white and white dust will come up.

If you find moldy parts, remove them generously. Mold spores spread out a good 10" from the original spot.
I would not feed questionable or very dusty hay indoors. But I'm paranoid, I had aCOPD horse.
walkinthewalk and Corporal like this.
    11-30-2012, 03:21 PM
I don't have a good place to dispose of old hay so I burn it. For a while I had it sitting in a corner of my pasture, then I noticed my horse trying to eat it. I took the hint, bought him a roll of good hay for his paddock and burned the old stuff to save him from himself.
    11-30-2012, 04:21 PM
You wouldn't burn it if you were also a gardener. =b
deserthorsewoman likes this.

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