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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the last few days we have been finding these weird things in and under our hay bags. It is clearly coming from the hay, but we don’t know what they are! Anyone have any idea what these things are?! They are hard, kind of sharp, and seemingly dangerous if one of our horses ate one or more. We have found DOZENS! I used my contact case as a size reference. Don’t ask why I chose to take these pictures in the bathroom! LOL
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Not sure where you're located, but it looks like the remnants of sweet gum balls.
View attachment 1114556
Maybe some of the southern members could confirm (@QtrBel?). As far as I know they aren't toxic to horses but you should check with your local extension office.
Not sure where you're located, but it looks like the remnants of sweet gum balls.
View attachment 1114556
Maybe some of the southern members could confirm (@QtrBel?). As far as I know they aren't toxic to horses but you should check with your local extension office.
Yeah wow I would agree. That looks similar. I am in the south. Just moved to the Myrtle Beach area from Detroit to live out our dreams of owning horses and land.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Not sure where you're located, but it looks like the remnants of sweet gum balls.
View attachment 1114556
Maybe some of the southern members could confirm (@QtrBel?). As far as I know they aren't toxic to horses but you should check with your local extension office.
And where are my manners?! Thank you so much for the quick response, and useful information. In the few months we have been horsemen/horsewomen we have seen a lot of things in the hay, but this was the first concerning item.
 

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Not sure where you're located, but it looks like the remnants of sweet gum balls.
View attachment 1114556
Maybe some of the southern members could confirm (@QtrBel?). As far as I know they aren't toxic to horses but you should check with your local extension office.
Completely agree with Egrogan. As a former landscaper, I’ve had to rake the darn things from under homeowners’ sweet gum trees…which is the reason I’ve never planted one in our yard.
Good call, E!
 

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Completely agree with Egrogan. As a former landscaper, I’ve had to rake the darn things from under homeowners’ sweet gum trees…which is the reason I’ve never planted one in our yard.
Good call, E!
No need to worry about toxicity: your horses won’t eat them!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No need to worry about toxicity: your horses won’t eat them!
Thank you all so much! I wish I joined this group a long time ago! I am not worried about Dakota eating them, he won’t eat some treats. But our new mare, Chancey, came home for the first time this week, and the first thing she did off the trailer was eat a dead leaf and then half a pine cone! So I worry about that maniac scarfing them down! You guys are great though! I really appreciate the peace of mind you have given me.
 

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Hello and welcome!

In the few months we have been horsemen/horsewomen we have seen a lot of things in the hay, but this was the first concerning item.
Your comment about seeing a lot of things in the hay —- try and find cleaner hay if you can. Cleaner weed-free hay will likely cost more but you won’t have the waste nor the risk of the horses eating something that will make them sick.

Here’s a link to common garden weeds in South Carolina - that means you can also find them in your hay and in your pasture:)


I looked specifically for Foxtail and by gosh SC has that too. If you cursor down the page there is a good foto of a foxtail.

The danger of dried foxtail in hay is the tiny stickers. They can often embed themselves inside the horses mouth, causing infection and a lot of discomfort. There have been folks who weren’t able to bit their horses due to foxtail stickers in the mouth.

All of this is a heads up to buy quality, weed-free grass hay, even if you have to pay premium at the feed store u til you find a local grower that knows what they’re doing.

I have looked at “horse hay” in the past that I would not have fed to my neighbor’s goats, lol

Congratulations on your new journey, feel free to comment and ask questions:)
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hello! Thank you for the helpful site, and useful information! These gum ball things are the only organic objects we have found in the hay thus far. The first few deliveries had some plastic chunks in it and pieces of twine. Nothing out of control. For the most part it has been pretty quality hay. Well at least to my untrained eye. This is obviously an eye opener
 

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most definitely seed pods . I would not let my horse eat them. I would see if you can return the hay and get some clean hay. If I am getting hay from a new source , I ask to see an open bale.
 

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Sweet gum balls. They make a great loose mulch and burn hot enough to cook with without a lot of flame. Aren't an issue in the hay except that if there are that many then they are taking up space that should have been hay. I'd collect what's fallen and if more than say a Walmart bag reasonably full I'd be bringing it to the attention of your hay person. I'd probably say something anyway if I were paying a premium price for horse hay but I have bought hay when there are shortages from an old guy down the road that bales for his cows and I know the fields. They have sweet gum balls in the first baling so aren't priced as high.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That is a good point. Let me ask you this. As I said before, my wife and I are brand new to all this. Moved here in December, first horse in January, and second last week. We are being charged $7 a bale for 30-40 bales at a time by these guys. Is that a decent price? This is the first time I have ever bought hay, and never thought to shop around or quote pricing.
 

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That is a good point. Let me ask you this. As I said before, my wife and I are brand new to all this. Moved here in December, first horse in January, and second last week. We are being charged $7 a bale for 30-40 bales at a time by these guys. Is that a decent price? This is the first time I have ever bought hay, and never thought to shop around or quote pricing.
It depends. Hay is a "whatever the market will bear" commodity. Where you live $7/bale for sub-par hay may be reasonable and sub-par hay is what you have, when there's a lot of something in it the horses can't eat.

We have to buy our hay at the feed store as the hay grower does not want to be bothered with people on his property. I am in southern Middle Tennessee where things are cheaper than the surrounding areas of Myrtle Beach.

Last year I paid $9/bale (40-50 pounds) for 99.9% weed free orchard mix/hay that is grown by a horse hay producer who knows what he is doing.

THIS year the hay from the same grower is $7.50/bale for the same size bale. I will see the hay tomorrow (Saturday) and I am really curious why the price is lower this year than last, unless the grower has had a bumper crop.

What you can do, if math is your thing, would be to do a C.O.L.A. comparison of Bedford/Coffee County, Tennessee and your area to see what my top quality hay would cost in your area. I suspect it will be more than what you are currently paying.

That all said, do your homework on hay quality FIRST. Pay the price if you only have one quality option. If you are fortunate to have more than one weed-free hay grower, then shop:)

I cannot see paying for weeds and seed heads a horse would not and should not eat:)

Also bear in mind that, with each passing year, the cost of fuel for farm equipment, baling twine, fertilizer and weed killer continues to rise and that is all factored into the cost the grower sells his hay for --- which is why I have a raised eyebrow as to why the hay grower I buy from is selling at $1.50/bale less than last year. Although hay was at a premium last year because we had so much rain, it couldn't get cut. What did get cut wouldn't dry out. I always bring test bales home. They ended up going right back to the store (40 miles away) because they were wet/warm inside and that means mold.

After taking bales back last year, hay was so questionable, in terms of excess moisture, I even bought a hay tester to stick in the bales, as they were being loaded on my trailer. It tests for moisture content and temperature. Not a cheap device but it sure did pay for itself.

Another FYI:) sometimes drying agents are used on hay and that is perfectly fine --- as long as your horses will eat the hay. Mine won't, lollol You can sometimes smell it, if your nose is good but you can always ask if the hay has had a drying agent put on it. If so, bring a couple of test bales home before you commit to a big load:)

And there's your "hay buying 101.1" for Friday, lollol

Hay makes all of us groan. When I was younger and used to sling hay up on the wagons, it was the one time of the year I swore I should put a "free horses" sign on the mail box. Now that I are a lot older and have to pay to have it stacked in the barn, it's STILL the one time of the year I am tempted to put a "free horses" sign on the mailbox, lollol

Of all the things we long timers despise the most about horse keeping, it is finding and putting up hay; finding good quality can sometimes drive us to drink, lollol
 

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The price of a "bale" will vary a lot regionally, and also by weight. When I first had my horses at home, and had to buy hay myself vs. being at a boarding barn where it was included, I thought "small square bales" weighed around 50 lbs. I couldn't understand why I was going through so much more than I expected to once I brought the horses home. I finally weighed a bale of what I had, and realized it was closer to 25-30 lbs, yet still considered a small square bale. Here in VT, we're paying ~$5-6 a "small square bale" delivered and stacked in our loft. We get a little bit of a discount per bale by handing the check over the day its delivered. The guy we buy from supplies most everyone with horses here, from the fancy people to the regular people ;)

In SC, Aiken Saddlery is one of the premier tack/feed stores. You might give them a call just to get a sense of their pricing, and where they're bringing hay in from. Even though that's a bit of a haul from where you are and not likely where you'll buy your hay, it could help you better understand pricing and suppliers in the area.
 

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@walkinthewalk , Here the price of hay fluctuates with the amount of hay available that year. The hay farmers around here contact the extension agent to find what market prices are and work off that. I pay $5 a square bale for horse quality hay from a neighbor and he delivers and helps me stack for that. I can't beat that. Last year my big bale brome was $40 a bale (around 1200#) bales. In other dry years I have paid as much as $55. This should be a cheaper year as we have an excellent crop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wow, I am so glad I found this site! Your information, and the other commenters, is so useful. I wish I hadn’t been guessing my way along for the last six months! This is all stuff I have never considered before, and it will help me take better care of my horses. For that, I am truly grateful!
 

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Wow, I am so glad I found this site! Your information, and the other commenters, is so useful. I wish I hadn’t been guessing my way along for the last six months! This is all stuff I have never considered before, and it will help me take better care of my horses. For that, I am truly grateful!
What mystifies me is the fact that sweet gum isn’t a particularly popular tree due to those prickly seed balls. Who the heck would have them growing in a hayfield!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Right?! Ridiculous. I believe they are originally a boarding facility that turned on of the pastures into a hayfield. So I think the area wasn’t set to grow hay. That is speculation on my part though.

It’s funny, because the kid that drops off the hay is one of those types that has a lot say. Endless stories with no real point, or meaning. I generally tune him out while unloading the bales, but all this sweet gum talk brings forth a vague memory of him saying something about falling off the baler and getting a bunch of burs stuck to him. That would explain the hundreds of balls in these bales. It is definitely time to shop around.
 

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What mystifies me is the fact that sweet gum isn’t a particularly popular tree due to those prickly seed balls. Who the heck would have them growing in a hayfield!
They are most likely along the edge of hayfield. That is also generally where all the human trash is, that gets caught up in the baler.

I can easily pick out hay bales that came from the edge of a field- even if there isn’t any junk in them, they are generally full of leaves, maybe some twigs and yes that .point one percent of weeds I was talking about, above, lol

@AwesomeSauce as you can see, depending where one lives, hay prices vary and methods to get it stacked in the barn also vary. When we first retired to Tennessee we were fortunate to have a great hay grower five miles away, and his prices out of his barn were more than reasonable.

Unfortunately, he was getting up in years and started slipping when it came to keeping the weeds out of the hay. The last year I bought from him, my generally squeaky clean hay was full of hop clover. I thought I had pulled it all from an open bale but I missed some and one of my horses colicked.

I ended up selling 100 bales to my cow neighbor for $1.00/bale — $3.50 less than I paid for it, plus it left me in a lurch to have to hunt more hay down. I buy by the season and generally over buy so I thankfully had some previous year’s hay to fall back on.
 
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