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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm sorry, I didn't quite know where to put this but it does pertain to horse health...
We bought a years supply of hay and stacked it in our lean-to. The lean-to is open on the ends for ventilation but not so that the hay can get wet with blowing rain. It has sliding doors to close the rest of it (see picture). The ground below the hay is sand and gravel, the hay is on pallets not on the ground. We've had an unusually warm and damp fall - now it's all moldy! (All outside edges, not inside)

I've owned horses for 20 years and never ran into this but this IS only the second year we've been at this farm storing hay here. In the past I had the hay in a big old barns hay loft.
However I'm not sure if this the location of the hay or the damp year? (See other photos) Other things have the same fuzzy mold on them. My headstalls, the run-in stall walls... which makes me wonder how much it would matter where I put the hay.

What are your thoughts on how this is stored?
What do you folks in a more damp/humid climate do?
It's typically cold by now here but I'm assuming someone in the south has to contend with damp humidity all winter.
Worst of all, is all of this hay just junk now?! I'm at a loss of what to do. Currently I'm rinsing/soaking it and feeding it because even if we gave it away, cried then and spent another $2,500 to buy new hay, I can't really do anything short of hope for winter to keep it from ending up in the same condition.

What you can see on the stall walls and headstall photos is what the hay looks like everywhere there's an exposed edge, it's just harder to photograph. What would you do?

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I'm not sure what to say about your hay but carefully offer it and enough the horses are not "hungry" and will pick around the fuzzy pieces...then rake and clean up well so no nibbling on it occurs with boredom.
Is it only the perimeter bales or is it all the bales stacked?
If it is throughout all your bales then your hay was baled at the wrong humidity level and has grown the mold from within itself and the heat it generates...
IF, if the mold is that extensive, sadly I would try to sell it to a farmer who can use it for cow feed...not sure goats/sheep can eat it either...but extensive and not just on a small edge would have me dumping the stored and questioning if it is safe to store this years in the same location where such conditions promoted mold to grow...

As for the mold visible...
From what your pictures show you have limited airflow.
When doors are shut, you are really sealed, except the soffit.
But do you have a roof cap sufficient to allow the air exchange and do you have a clearance door bottom for air exchange?
Your hay needs to breathe and breathe well in humid conditions...even then it can spoil easily if it was not put up in bales at just the right moment.

I'm in Florida, home of heat and humidity.
Yes, we too had mold in our barn from stagnant air weeks on end with such small breezes it was just gross this year.
We expected it so our 20 square bales went in my garage, my car went outside till we got to a point in the year where the humidity level is now dropped some and northern breezes are more common = drying conditions.
We most often use round rolls and I do not keep any here but call my hayman to deliver when I need.
I pay for that luxury as my rounds are paid upfront for 15 of them to hold me plus 100 squares cause when wet my round is off limits and covered from hungry mouths.
But my supplier is a neighbor and his hay barns are just enormous...
I don't care what field my hay comes from as long as when I need he can bring it to me....all his hay is top-notch quality.

Your tack I would wipe down with White Vinegar and let it dry and air in a place of good ventilation and air exchange done.
Your barn walls would be visited by a scrub brush dipped in a bleach solution mild to kill the mold spores...
Keep the horses out and you wear a breathing apparatus/mask while scrubbing and cleaning.
Opening that back solid wall to allow some better air flow might be something to consider. The ends I get need shut so no weather arrives..
Once the barn is dry the horses are welcome to come back but the smell needs to dissipate and that happens with drying.
The mold on tack is why many have A/C tack rooms or keep in a house location...otherwise green it can be and get, it can also stain the leather so indeed get it gone soon.
🐴...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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Thankyou!

The hay is fuzzy on the outside only, it's a storage issue not a put up wet issue. There's fuzz everywhere and edge touches the air. In theory all of the bales not exposed to the air should be ok.
I wish we had the option to store it with the hay man but we bought out hay from 1.5 hours away this year. During the spring there was a drought so we had a hard time finding it.
The hay barn is open on both ends right now (pictures) and has been since we put the hay in. We left it like that for air flow until we get to the blowing snow months. It seems like that should work fine for storing hay but it's kindof apparent not.

Whats crazy though is the mold on the stall walls are the walls you see in the first picture. It's all wide open. Ugh!

thankyou for your thoughts. I'll be scrubbing.
 

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I've peeled the edges, clipped them and had the horses get out and decide they'd just eat around it. Not the best scenario but you do what you need to do.

Better airflow would help.
 

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This has been a wet fall here as well, We have a barn loft and can store hay there and it stays good, but we don't have an elevator and the last few years have stored it downstairs. We did store some in the back of the barn on tarps and pallets but the bottom layer was always garbage.
It's too bad you weren\t able to get the hay late in the year when it isn't so humid. We get ours in Nov and store it on tarps and pallets. It comes in 21 bale bundles part of it is stacked two bundles high in the back and the rest stored in a couple of stalls. So far this has worked, we feed the bundles stored out back first. They seem to stay well in the bundles.
Hay is my least favourite horse chore and I am sorry that your hay is getting moldy, it's a real problem.
Could you get hay in these 21 bale bundles and later in the year for future years? We find that is our best option.
 

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I’ve dealt with high humidity ever since I retired to Middle Tennessee 18 years.

1. Now that high humidity has arrived to your area, plan on dealing with this issue as long as you need hay.

2. Even if you could start sawing away to make more airflow it might not make sense or it may cost too much money.

2.1. I THINK the shed looks too low to cut holes in the roof to Install air fans in the roof.

3. It doesn’t look like you have power to the shed? If so that’s a blessing because you could buy a couple of big barrel fans, an industrial outdoor timer for each one, and run fans on the hay at certain hours of the day.

3.1. If there is no power, there is still a way to run fans but you have have to run every fan & it’s timer on a separate outlet at the house or garage. That would mean you would likely be running on 110 and you wouldn’t be able to buy a barrel fan bigger than 36” as the motor is smaller than one in a 42” barrel fan; I have 220 at the barn.

Years ago, I made my own 100’ power cord with heavy duty outdoor 10 gauge electric cord. I put a box on it, and ran it from my kitchen window to the horse shed to hook up a fan in the shed to blow on the horses.

Even one barrel fan would be a huge help if you could direct it at the worst point of moldy hay. But you will still lose some hay no matter what you do with the floor, so keep your bottom hay row as a sacrifice row.

One of my horses doesn’t bother the fan, so it could even be on the horse side of the shed, if need be, but under cover and on a dry surface.

We went thru too many fans, buying them at Tractor Supply🤬

Can’t beat the fans Northern Tool makes😘. Just be sure to buy sealed motors if you go this route.


This is one of my 42” barrel fans - it has a SEALED motor. My IR/Cushings horse lives in front of this fan much of the summer but it still blows onto one hay stack during the day. I re-position it at night, plus I have another 42” and one 36” , all of them on heavy timers.


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My gut says you need light to penetrate inside that storage area...
It appears dark, dank and damp in that picture = prime for mold to grow.
You absolutely also need air circulation.

I know when we looked into buying a storage shed to keep hay in we were suggested "strongly" to have bottom screens placed to allow airflow at the base and with upper airflow ability it would circulate and reduce chances of molding to grow.
I don't know how that would work in a metal sided building but not sure why you couldn't cut and add a screen maybe 8" long every 2' - 3' feet would help.
Being placed "low" we were told it would be near impossible for rain to gain entry...but not sure about that either if you suffer from heavy wind driven rains/snow.
I do think windows would stop a lot of your problem...
Sunlight and the heat it generates are a killer of mold conditions needed to grow...so windows and you can buy 2nd hand ones from a place that has remodeling items for camper trailers, mobile homes.
You don't need multi-pane insulated, in fact you want single pane glass to allow that pure sun and heat to come in but keep the weather out.
My husband built a storage shed for lawn mower and tools...we bought those single-pane windows from a salvage yard...
$10 a piece and they are single-hung so they can ventilate the shed if we wish.
"New" a bit more but if adding light solves your molding problem...worth a few $ spent to not lose a load of hay.

For a idea only...
A "hopper" window that has a hinge on the top, the glass pushes outward at the bottom and therefore, no rain/precipitation gains entry but airflow arrives... Now add a vent at the bottom, again no weather gets in but air circulation happens...and that uninsulated hopper storm window style and vent easily work with your building being metal sided... The kind of window I'm thinking of would be seen in older homes in a basement location primarily.

Now that vent is called a gable vent, but no reason why it can't be used on wall bottom...
These are cheap fixes...less than $50 on Amazon and as said, that is new...look locally for a salvage place or store for refurbishing trailers, manufactured older homes and such for savings...a used window dealer may have exactly what you need for windows.
I know years ago insulated windows not exist, so homes all had single pane windows and storm windows to give added protection and save on heat loss...storm windows is what those were called and they still exist most stores that do windows, you just need to ask.
You can also use those "gable vent" vents in the solid wall and get airflow that way too...but sunlight to shine in think is where you need to start your journey to kill the mold machine.

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I found you this too about sheds in general..it would apply to your hay storage area too.

Hope some ideas given help to get you headed in a least expensive paid, best mold stopping fix found. ;)
🐴...
 

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HLG mentioned air vents and it reminded me that we have slider type foundation air vents on our house, which is in a crawl space. They open and close so you can control them according to the weat her and you could position them according to possible flood issues.

Ours are similar to these; note they have screens to discourage critters.


I do, however, still recommend at least one barrel fan o help air circulation. My barn has two ten doors and two working window which, coming from the north, I thought was sufficlient and found out the hard way it is not. I have given my neighbor down the hill a lot of moldy hay for his beef cattle🙄
 

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Hmmm. We purchased a small prefab hay barn of excellent quality for Angelina and packed it to the gills with hay. We kept the doors closed tight to keep the raccoons out and the only ventilation was one open window. Michigan has hot, humid summers and we never once had an issue with mold on our hay.
I tend to agree with the reply thinking there may have been an issue with the hay to begin with?
 

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Re hay: leave it out in the open (feed off the ground) to allow the horses to spread it around, sort through it and pick out the good stuff. When you think about it, mold isn’t entirely foreign to horses — I’ve gotten up close with my pasture and observed it’s common to see bits of mold all over the place through dead leaves/grasses, etc naturally occurring and laying on the ground.

Re building: Other posters have good comments on creating air circulation. I notice you have metal siding on that one wall — metal is good at trapping and holding onto moisture so one fix may be to put up some osb/plywood on the wall and also make sure (even if you go with adding on the wood on that one wall) to keep the hay from touching the wallas much as possible.

Good luck.
 

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With metal barns you need to have really good circulation. Our hay Barn is wood sided. West wall has a two foot space between wall an ground. We have part of that closed in currently.

East an north walls are solid,south side is open an sun shines in there part of the day. Roof is 12 feet tall eves are 10 feet tall. Good air flow never condensation or mold on walls or roof.

Barn is more closed up solid wood walls all the way up two doors east an west sides. Windows on south side vents at roof peek on east an west sides.

Been a hot humid summer now damp rainy fall. Neither buildings has mold or condensation in them.

Have big industrial fan in horse barn if needed we've put it in hay barn. Never have had mold issues in either barn. Our hays on pallets with some space between bales for air flow. Wood siding is higher maintenance. But my barn is warmer in winter then a metal sided barn by 10 to 15 degrees.
 

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@rambo99 Wood vs metal is probably the magic answer - I didn’t even think about that🙄. My barn is metal because it’s easier to keep clean, I don’t have to paint it, and there’s less wood for the termites — we live in termite heaven - I pay our pest control folks to maintain termite stations.

@BethR I put Kosher salt between my hay rows and run fans. Sometimes the hay is damp when it goes in the barn but most of the time it is not.

The time my very dry hay developed black mold that was stored beside the window really T’d me off. Rain never blew through that window to get it wet. It was just flat out humid.
 

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Might be a storage issue you may or may not be able to correct easily. Could also be a weather issue you can't correct. The dryer the hay, the easier it is to keep and will be more forgiving of marginal storage or weather conditions. I sell hay and try to hang onto it for a 10-14 days before selling it to be sure it is going to cure properly. I know how my barn behaves but have no idea what kind of hay storage most of my customers have. Old timers would use plain white salt to prevent mold when the hay moisture was a little too high. You might try spreading salt on top of the bales as you stack them. A 50# bag of salt should be under $10 at a feed store. Be careful as salt is corrosive to metal. The more modern answer is proprionic acid which is EPA registered to prevent mold in hay. Most often it is applied with the baler so it is distributed evenly throughout the bale. Perhaps you could spray it on the outside of your bales with a pump up garden sprayer as it seems like you've got a surface issue. Proprionic acid can be purchased from most equipment dealers who sell hay equipment. If mold is still growing either of these might help. It's the spores produced by mold that appear to be dust which are harmful to horses. To salvage the hay, either remove the "dusty" outside layers or soak the hay before feeding. Most horses will avoid eating moldy hay if there is something else to eat. I had one who would eat everything and could always tell when he had eaten moldy hay as he would develop a persistent cough.
 

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Metal heats up like a furnace during the day, in the hot weather, then collects condensation on the underside as soon as it cools down.

It doesn't even have to be super cold for droplets of water to form and drop down onto your hay where they get absorbed and create mold.

Having a non metal roof, with air vents where the roof meets the walls, helps solve a lot of that problem,

If you could insulate the interior and line with just a thin layer wood it would go a long way to solving your hay mold problems.

Those bales are probably OK on the inside.

Your tack is a separate problem - you'd need a run a dehumidifier in the tack room to reduce mold build up on the leather.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wow thankyou for all of the thoughts!
We are going to put fans out there to start, that's an easy fix.
Re the wood vrs steel I thought the same thing but that doesn't make sense BECAUSE the same mold is growing on the stall walls. That side is shingle roof, not metal. The stalls are all wood and their wide open being a lean to style. The stuff is still growing on the walls like you see in the pictures. That's why I'm stumped 🤔
 

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Here's pictures of barn walls west wall an north wall. Hay barn west wall near south opening. No mold any where on any walls in either building. Humidity was 75 to 90 percent all summer. Winters are also damp cold almost all winter.
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