What are things to look for when choosing hay?
 
 

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What are things to look for when choosing hay?

This is a discussion on What are things to look for when choosing hay? within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • What to look for in quality hay
  • How can you tell if hay is moldy

 
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    05-26-2011, 05:14 PM
  #1
Green Broke
What are things to look for when choosing hay?

I have no experience whatsoever in buying hay for horses, every stable I have ever boarded at until now had full service and used their hay. I am now at a stable where I have to bring in my own hay, and I have no clue what to look for in telling if hay is good quality, bad quality, and things to look for to clue in if it's been exposed to possums and other disease carrying vermin. I somewhat lucked out my first time and a friend helped me find a dealer with some really really nice first cutting brome, but after a while that dealer started sticking in bales of more coarse, inedible stuff (my vet says he doesn't even think a goat would eat it). So today I am looking at hay from a new dealer.

What are signs of good quality v. Bad quality? Should I look for it to be stored a certain way. Are there any identifiers that would tell me that I definitely should NOT buy certain bales? How can you tell if hay is moldy, does it have a smell to it, and if so what is that smell like?

Thank you all for any hay buying tips you may have :)
     
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    05-27-2011, 09:22 AM
  #2
Green Broke
Bump, anyone???
     
    05-27-2011, 10:28 AM
  #3
Weanling
This is what possum or racoon covered hay looks like
Attached Images
File Type: jpg travis reisch hay 015.jpg (98.2 KB, 204 views)
     
    05-27-2011, 10:31 AM
  #4
Weanling
I don't sell hay into Nebraska, so go look at our website - www.productionacres.com lots of information on purchasing hay.

Buy only by the ton - buy only hay that has a forage test - do not buy out of the field

Ask more - I can help!
     
    05-27-2011, 10:38 AM
  #5
Green Broke
LOL, I can't buy by the ton, there is no where to store it. The stable only gives me enough space for 30 bales max, and that's pushing it :(
     
    05-27-2011, 11:13 AM
  #6
Weanling
Do you buy hamburger by the pound or by the package. If you purchase a 1/2 ton of hay at $200/ton that makes it $100. I did not say you had to purchase a whole ton, I said you need to only buy it by the ton!
     
    05-27-2011, 11:23 AM
  #7
Green Broke
Sorry, I misunderstood, LOL.

And thanks for the possum poo pic......ewwwwwww but now I know what to look for. The place I was looking at yesterday was really clean the hay was covered, but yes it was from the field which most of it in Nebraska is.
     
    05-27-2011, 11:44 AM
  #8
Showing
When I lived up in PA and had to buy hay, it was always sold by the bail. At the time Timothy was (and actually still is) being sold at ~$3.00 per bail. A bail was about 40/45 pounds so that 50 bails was a ton.

Since most farmers didn't have their hay tested, I looked first for color, which should be greenish in the center of the bail and the smell which should smell sweet and fresh. Make sure there are no thorns or Johnson grass mixed in. Make sure there is no mold and very little dust.

Take a look at the hay that your old barn used and used that as a guide. Just keep in mind that if it's dusty, straw in color, and smells like nothing, it is probably not a good quality.
     
    05-27-2011, 12:08 PM
  #9
Banned
Also pay attention to the amount of stem vs. the amount of leaf. Good hay is not stemmy but soft. Legume hay, such as clover or alfalfa is so soft that it barely stays together in a flake; grass hay such as orchard grass or timothy will be stiffer but if you see a lot of stem it's poor quality/late cutting or both.

Good quality fresh hay *smells* good; like fresh mown grass. Old, poor quality hay will have very little smell; hay that smells musty or moldy - run away!

If you buy from the field and have to store the hay yourself, you have to be extra careful about how you store and stack it to ensure good curing and drying. Please also be aware that there is a combustion risk of storing fresh hay improperly.

My hay guy, whom I adore, refused to sell me hay out of the field from this year's first cutting, even though I have a separate, well ventilated, hay barn. It had higher moisture content than he liked, and he wanted to to make sure there wasn't a problem with mold before he sold it. Cheaper and easier for him to deliver to me straight out of the field; but more expensive if he has to replace moldy bales.
     
    05-27-2011, 01:12 PM
  #10
Green Broke
Cinny's favorite is first cutting of brome or brome mixture with no stems so that is what I look for. This guy (we'll call him Farmer Z) where I went last night still has last years first cutting, it is still a nice green, smells sweet and he allowed me to actually pull a bale of my choosing apart and look in the middle...no dust, just thread fine, sweet smelling dry grass, just like Cin likes it. I took 4 bales for now (I have to have some repairs done to the Sorrento before I can put a trailer on it), just to make sure it meets picky Cinny's approval. Farmer Z only has about 200 bales left as the local Racing barn has been quickly buying him out (and everyone else too). He is doing this years first cutting next week so he said it should be ready to go as soon as it properly cures and he has double checked it for quality, mold, etc. He has a separate barn quite a distance out in the field that he has set up specifically for hay curing, then when it's cured he brings it up to his storage barn. It's a pretty big place.

And I guess I also find it cute that he reminds me of Farmer Zuckerman from Charlottes Web, lol.
     

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