Just a fun story from The Barn.
Time for more hay. Getting high quality hay has been expensive and challenging the last couple years due to the drought. I have tried to evaluate prospective products based on appearance, texture, smell, even resorting to chewing up a bit myself. I can't say I have had any notable success, tho; my _real_ hay experts generally do not agree with my assessment's.
My hay supplier knows this, having had to un-deliver some Timothy hay last year; it looked good, but my pasture prima donnas wouldn't touch it. I'm sure if I let them get hungry they would have eventually eaten it, but we don't do things that way; Spoiled Horses -R- Us :-)
This time I planned ahead, and collected hay from three different suppliers, including two different kinds from my usual guy. Two of the bales appeared to be the same or very similar; a Timothy mix, one was being offered as "Mountain Grass", which looked and smelled pretty tasty to me, and one was "Meadow Grass with some Alfalfa", but not enough alfalfa to sell as a mix. This looked OK, maybe a lttle dusty, and I didn't see any alfalfa in it at all.
Once I had sample bales in the barn, I loaded 'em all in a wagon and pulled it out into the pasture, offering it to each animal in turn.
To my surprise, they figured this one out immediately, and they all carefully evaluated the offerings; sniff, then taste. Mind you, these were not hungry horses, but sleek (fat) well-fed critters who pulled their noses out of the feeder to see what "dad" had brought.
They have been eating Timothy hay for the last few months, but after a quick sniff they all passed on the Timothy w/o even a taste. The "Mountain" hay got a sniff and nibble, but nobody came back for seconds. The Meadow Grass, OTOH, was a huge hit, and I soon had all four monsters following me around tugging at the bale. Too funny.
I tossed the bale in the feeder, and left them to their demolition work. My supplier will be bringing all of it he has in stock, ~150 bales, tomorrow.
Does this story have a moral? You bet; Trust your Experts!
Steve Jernigan KG0MB
University of Colorado