Knowing bad hay from visual inspection
   

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Knowing bad hay from visual inspection

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  • Is coarse hay bad for horses
  • Visual examples of bad hay bales

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    01-01-2013, 04:22 PM
  #1
Yearling
Knowing bad hay from visual inspection

After overhearing a couple of barn staff talking about problems with our barn's most recent hay shipment, I got concerned that I don't think I could recognize a bad bale based on just visual inspection. I know that mold/musty smell is a red flag, but aside from that, I have to admit I'm embarrassed I don't really know what else to look for (I board, and am not typically there for feedings, so aside from tossing out the occasional flake from an open bale, I guess I just don't spend that much time with hay).

This is definitely something I should know more about, so can anyone talk about how you know you have a bad bale in front of you?
     
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    01-01-2013, 04:26 PM
  #2
Teen Forum Moderator
I look for coarse, thick stalks that are hard to chew, weeds, burrs, and greeness. If there is no green in the hay, its likely worthless. The more green the healthier it generally is.
     
    01-01-2013, 04:59 PM
  #3
Started
I look for a high ratio of leaves (and lack of leaf shatter) to stalks, and few seed heads (if there are lots of heads the grass was cut more mature). As far as the color, good hay can be green to pale gold, depending on the type (but should not be brown). But always check the inside of the bale for color, as they sun bleach (which reduces only the Vitamin A content).

I always like the hay to be "soft" in texture, not coarse. I inspect multiple bales for insects, trash, and weeds and dust/dirt.
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    01-01-2013, 05:04 PM
  #4
Started
Soft and fine, no weeds, green in color, obviously the smell, if you drop it and dust comes off along with what others have said. A hay dealer should have no problem if you ask to crack a bale open before you buy
     
    01-01-2013, 05:12 PM
  #5
Trained
Do not judge hay by the color. All hay loses vitamins very fast after being cut and cured.
As for palatability, I learner a long time ago that I didn't have a horse nose for hay. Hay that looked and smelled great to me, they would pick through, and hay that looked dry and didn't smell much of anything, they would eat every last bit.
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    01-01-2013, 05:26 PM
  #6
Yearling
Thanks all-helpful tips. I feel dumb for having to ask something that's probably so simple and basic...

I'm going to look more closely at the "discard" pile tomorrow. I think the problem is that it's been very stemmy with hard, thick stuff making up most of the bale, but I want to look at what's there to see what I can learn, particularly wih your suggestions in mind.
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    01-01-2013, 05:45 PM
  #7
Weanling
Don't feel dumb, everybody has to ask somewhere in order to learn :)
     
    01-01-2013, 07:28 PM
  #8
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan    
Thanks all-helpful tips. I feel dumb for having to ask something that's probably so simple and basic...

I'm going to look more closely at the "discard" pile tomorrow. I think the problem is that it's been very stemmy with hard, thick stuff making up most of the bale, but I want to look at what's there to see what I can learn, particularly wih your suggestions in mind.
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Keep in mind that the 'discards' are not necessarily bad hay, just less palatable than the rest. Just like kids, they'll always eat the 'best' first.
Northernstar likes this.
     
    01-01-2013, 08:20 PM
  #9
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaintHorseMares    
Keep in mind that the 'discards' are not necessarily bad hay, just less palatable than the rest. Just like kids, they'll always eat the 'best' first.
Paint, I think I actually heard them say they were sending those bales back and not feeding it at all. I'll have to ask why.
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    01-02-2013, 03:23 AM
  #10
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan    
Paint, I think I actually heard them say they were sending those bales back and not feeding it at all. I'll have to ask why.
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There are also other reasons that horses won't eat 'good' hay. Barn cats can pee on bales, little critters/snakes/turtles caught in the baler, etc.
     

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