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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I think some of you know I have three easy keeper Morgan mares- two in their 20s and retired, one who is 12 that is in moderate work. One of the retirees, Maggie, is diagnosed with insulin resistance that is managed with near 24/7 grazing muzzle, low-NSC hay and ration balancer to carry her insulin wise supplement, and light exercise appropriate for some arthritic changes. Happily, she actually has lost some weight with this approach this summer, and her hard crest has gotten much better.

I found some hay that all three horses really like, that tests "well" via Equi-analytical (happy to post the results, but by testing well I mean NSC and all related components are well within safe zone for an IR horse). But here's my big problem: the supplier of that hay ("Hay Supplier #1) lost access to two big fields because of Covid this year (I know, strange...) so he was only able to bring us ~300 bales of this very safe yet palatable hay. I need 600 bales total to comfortably get through a New England winter and mud season, so I had to make up the rest with someone else.

The other 300 fresh bales got delivered today. This brings me to the next part of my conundrum. It's sort of a long story, but Hay Supplier #2 (who brought us this fresh baled hay today) left me in a lurch last winter; long story short, Hay Supplier #2 was supposed to store 200 bales of hay for me least year because I can only store about 500 bales in my hay loft, but it "went bad" before he could deliver it when I needed it in February. To make matters worse, he didn't tell me that until I called him for it, which sent me into a mad scramble to find enough to make it through the winter. Which is how I found Hay Supplier #1, with the good, NSC-safe hay.

So this year, because Hay Supplier #1 didn't have enough, I had to go with #2 to make up the difference. But based on being hung out to dry last year, I had to take delivery of more hay than I can store in the loft. So as of today I have close to 100 fresh bales in my garage, which is definitely not ideal because of moisture. It's sitting on a plastic-covered concrete floor, up on pallets.

Because I'm worried about losing this 100 bales in the garage, I should probably be feeding it out first, before the stuff in the loft. The alternative would be to feed the stuff I know is "cured" and NSC safe, which is up in the loft. My horses have access to ~6 acres of mediocre pasture, so this time of year in addition to "busy eating" on the pasture, they do eat around a bale of hay a day hung in slow feeders. That means this about 3 months of hay sitting in the garage, and I really can't afford to waste it.

Thanks if you've gotten through that novel!! Now for my questions:
1. Leaving the IR issue aside, would you feed freshly baled hay to your horses? I know there is some old school thought that it's dangerous. I've never had to so don't know what to think about "uncured" hay?
1a. If you feel it's not safe, how long would you wait to feed it out?

2. If the answer to #1 is yes, considering the IR issue:
2a. If I get this freshly baled hay tested now,* it seems like that would give me "worst case" scenario for NSC and NSC-related values? So if it's safe now, it would continue to be safe as it dries, yes?
2a.1. If it's not safe now, how long would I wait to retest to see if as it's dried, it becomes safe? Is that even a possibility?
*Two years ago, hay from Hay Supplier #2 (e.g., the fresh baled hay) I'm talking about DID test in the NSC safe zone, and came from the same field as this hay, so I'm optimistic. But I bought that hay from him when it had been up in his barn for a couple of months. Regardless of that fact that it was safe before, I would still test this new stuff anyway for piece of mind.

2b. If the NSC values are in the safe zone, would there be any other reasons an IR horse still shouldn't have fresh baled hay? I mean, I'm going through so much trouble with the grazing muzzle to keep her from eating fresh grass, it seems sort of silly to turn around and give her fresh hay. But I guess if the NSC values are safe, they're safe...right?!

Would greatly appreciate insight and advice!
 

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Let me put your mind at ease. We bale our own hay. Hay baled out of the field if dry is "cured" already and should not cure more after you bale it and store it. It is perfectly safe to feed (as in I am feeding my second cutting of hay now and we just baled it last week)

Storing hay in your garage is not ideal but if its just 3 months worth and you can leave the door cracked to get air under the pallets it should be fine until you use it all up. I store hay in a ShelterLogic shelter with the doors open because the plastic draws moisture and it is fine.

You may think about getting one of those garage in a boxes for hay storage for those extra bales. Its not ideal in the summer if you need to close the doors (it gets hot in there and the plastic draws moisture - but for about $300 ours has lasted 3 years and helps with our overage hay and I feed it out of there before winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you @carshon ! That does put my mind at ease (until I send the hay off to be tested :wink:). I am paranoid about the moisture but we will do what we can with doors and windows cracked.

I thought about a portable shelter but it just wasn't in the cards this year after the fencing project. And not totally sure where it would go. But something to think about for the future for sure!

For future reference, when you say the plastic draws moisture, would you have left it out of the equation?
 

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I'm puzzled why hay up on pallets would not be safe for long term storage in a garage. Enlighten me please.


I think there is a little cellular metabolism goes on in a bale. That's probably why old hay is......old. But most of the sugar/starch reduction takes place in drying....so I've read. The biggest deal is morning cutting or afternoon cutting with morning being less sugar/starch.


Never heard the story about not feeding fresh baled hay.


I have one IR Morgan and that's a'plenty.
 

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Never heard anything about probs with fresh baked hay either, or anything about leaving it to 'cure' after basting. Grass is left to dry completely before it's bales. If hay guy 2 did not wait for that before baking, or it rained just before baring, or where he stored it it got wet, that would allow it to 'go bad', but nothing to do with fresh basted.

Does your garage leak? Can't see prob with it kept there if not esp if it's off the ground. Mine - round bases - is half kept outside under a tarp.

Grass loses sugars in actively growing - so at night when live. And gains sugars through photosynthesis. So that's why grass cut in the early morn is likely lower sugar than that cut late on a sunny day. Grass loses very little sugar at all after its dead. It doesn't lose much at all with time. So hay that has been sitting in your shed for W years may be just about as high as the field was when it was originally cut! That's why it's important to give 'sensitive' horses tested low NSC hay, or soak & drain before feeding.
 

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As a hay producer in the humid east proper ventilation in storage is very important. Hay production in other parts of the country is different. It is usually not possible or desirable to bale hay when completely dry. My main hay crop is alfalfa. If you wait for it to be completely dry in the field before baling you will have stems and very few leaves as they will fall off and be left in the field. Hay generally cures for several weeks after being placed in storage. Airflow to carry the moisture and a place for the moisture to go are important. I try not to sell any hay for a week or so after baling so I know it's going to keep. I know how my storage behaves and can control ventilation somewhat but I have no idea what my customers have. Sea containers and dry van semi trailers are the worst storage. I think you are on a good start by placing the hay on pallets. I'd place a fan in a window and leave the garage door open a crack so you can create cross flow ventilation. Also hay is supposed to cure better when stacked cut side up with the strings to the sides but I don't think it's that big of a deal if you have already stacked it flat with the strings up. No experience with an IR horse so can't help you there.
 

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Concrete foundation and moisture wicking plus condensation add plastic and moisture congregates it seems. I'd create cross ventilation and have a fan going.
 

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1. I am feeding this year’s cut to one horse - I started him out mixing 50-50 with last year’s hay.

2. I also sprinkle Kosher salt on every row of newly bailed hay as it gets put up. This really does help wick moisture. If a bale feels heavy in comparison to the rest, it (they) gets set to the side and stored last to be used first.

3. Do you have electric in your garage? If so buy a 36” minimum barrel (drum) fan. Buy a heavy duty outdoor timer and a heavy gauge construction extension cord if necessary.

Set the timer however you need to, and the fan on the hay, making sure the fan has ample air to suck in - don’t let it be close to a wall:)

****
@Hondo, I have always mixed last year’s hay with new hay when the new hay first comes in. As @RMH alluded to, hay almost always cannot be baled totally dry in our climates, especially alfalfa.

Then there is our high humidity to deal with during storage. Even when I lived on the OH/PA border high humidity was always a threat to ruining hay. Where I now live in Middle Tennessee, it’s even worse. I have lost hay to black mold just having it stacked close to the SW window of the barn.

As I write this at almost 9:30 PM, the temp is 77 F, humidity is 78%, dew point is 70 F. When all of those, numbers are pretty much the same, you have “air you can wear” or “cut with a knife”. It is not all pleasant.

My hay is on pallets with Visqueen under the pallets and the bottoms of the bottom row STILL mold. I have to keep the bottom row of hay my sacrifice row; I throw it out every 3-4 years. It’s not ideal because my barn is small and hay storage was at a premium to begin with. Now that I am down to two horses, it’s not a big deal, except the annoyance of losing space.
 
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@egrogan. I didn’t answer the real crux of the issue.

Whatever NSC & WSC the hay tests at now, is what it will still be by next cutting season:):)

From that perspective go ahead and use it, if it comes back low.

I mix new hay with old hay for a a week or so, because new hay is like a candy bag and the horses sometimes gorge themselves on newly cut hay.

With my luck, somebody would have a major colic and I wouldn’t have enough Banamine to pull them out of it. For me, it’s just better if I start out mixing the old and the new for a week:):)

For some reason my IR horse prefers last year’s hay, while the other horse eats the new hay. I bought a lot last year so I have enough to let the IR horse have all of that and the other horse can have the new hay:)
 
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Ok. Raised in a very high humidity climate. Been in Arizona too long. Forgot about that. I remember stories about loose alfalfa in a barn loft smoldering a hole in the middle sometimes.


Thanks for the explanation. I understand now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Never heard the story about not feeding fresh baled hay.
Never heard anything about probs with fresh baked hay either, or anything about leaving it to 'cure' after basting.
I really don't know the origin of the story, but it's something I remember hearing around barns as a kid, and it was repeated (though dismissed) in this article: https://ker.com/equinews/fresh-baled-hay-horses/

@RMH , @QtrBel and @walkinthewalk have beat me to the problems of humidity with storing hay in our region. People don't think of our part of the country (northern New England) when they think of humid spots, but it actually does stay very humid here year round. Today it's a comfortable temp, just about 70*F/21*C, but the humidity is close to 80%. This weekend, it was 90*F/32*C and nearly 90% humidity. The concrete floor can "sweat" when temps get like that because the people who built the garage and barn didn't put down proper vapor barriers when laying the pad. It's an expensive fix that we can't take on right now, so have to work around it. Fortunately *knock briskly on wood* we've had great luck with hay in the loft the past two years. Hay stored on the first floor of the barn, even for just a week or so, goes moldy. I'm just hoping, hoping, hoping the garage will work out a little better as it's not as apt to "sweat" as the barn. I've got the whole thing opened up, including doors and windows, with a fan going and will keep that up for the next few weeks any day it's not raining.

@egrogan . I didn’t answer the real crux of the issue.
Whatever NSC & WSC the hay tests at now, is what it will still be by next cutting season:):)
Thank you, I was hoping you might respond because I know you've thought about this issue quite a lot! Taking samples and sending out today! It smells and looks great- hopefully not TOO great! :wink:

I have one IR Morgan and that's a'plenty.
I am right there with you. I never want another one with these health and diet needs. She's a lovely horse and of course we will do the right thing for her, but the hyper vigilance is draining. I've also never had one that was difficult to keep weight on, but after going through trying to get weight off I think I'd rather have the problem of a hard keeper. Sort of like cooking- you can always add more of something, but it's hard to take ingredients away after you've dumped them in the pot. My first two horses completely spoiled me- they keep a healthy weight with a very basic diet and an outdoor lifestyle. So all this weight management is new to me.
 

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Is your garage attached to your house? As that is a fire risk.

Fans are also a fire risk. Unless they have an enclosed motor.

That said, maybe buy a dehumidifier. My garage has enough humidity to mold my tack. It's better this year because we started keeping the garage door completely shut. The A/C in the house leaks under the door into the garage giving us a slightly cooler garage.
 
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