September 10, 2013

Hay Day!

Brome, orchard, timothy, mountain, prairie....grass hay.  Most tends to be around the same protein and nutritional levels.  I've done some research on the various types of hays. From my research I mainly want to avoid Tiffon or Bermuda since they can lead to impact colic.  Here in Colorado timothy is pretty expensive but a great hay (that's the 30 bales I bought back in May), prairie and orchard is pretty common and Brome also seems to be appearing more often during this drought.

I found a great document that describes all the different hay types Selection and Use of Hay.  It's a great read and very helpful in making decisions about what hay to feed your particular horse.

Above timothy seed heads are to the left and Brome is to the right.  The leaves themselves are not too different looking though Brome can often have more of a brownish green color when dried but it still has a great nutritional value.  I like feeding grass hay since I can feed more of it compared to the legumes.  I tend to essentially free feed Dani with her slow feeder.  She always has access to something to munch on; I couldn't do that with alfalfa even though it's a better priced hay in this drought.

I purchased 10 bales of Brome hay from Rocky Mountain hay up in Franktown.  They are nice heavy bales but a little inconsistent.  One bale is very green, other is rather brownish and I double check to make sure their is no mold.  Also twigs and twine bits seem to end up in these bales.  Oh well, Dani doesn't care, she grazes in fields with twigs and bits of other things in them....not like she can't eat around it and she does.  I pick out anything I see when I fill her feeder though.

I was thinking of purchasing more of this Brome but then found some awesome bales that a club member had purchased.  Nice heavy bales and green, green Brome!!  I tried to get a co-op together but I think at this point in the summer everyone who needed hay had already found what they needed.  Earlier in late June a group of us were all ready to get a load of hay.  Another member of the club was receiving a truck load a couple weeks before our group was to receive ours.  The hay dealer was a crook, the hay was BAD.  They refused it and so everyone (rightly so) backed out from our deal and we had to start all over.

I then learned from a club member that the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank is starting to sell the hay they acquire.  Before they have mostly worked off donations to provide hay to those in need.  If people lose their job, have an illness in the family etc. and find it hard to pay for hay they can apply and get hay for free to help them out and keep their beloved family members!  What a great organization!!!  I called them up and went out to look at some small bales.  It was an alfalfa mix, not straight grass so I wasn't too keen on purchasing it.  The rest of the bales were large 4 x 4's or 3 x 8's.  Yes, someday these size bales will make sense for me to buy since by the pound the hay is cheaper even when prices are as high as they are right now.  I don't have a tractor to move and stack these sizes so I'm limited to the small bales.

My Superhero, Horse Husband!
I found out they were getting some grass in from Grand Junction so I discussed with them about the quality.  It's a great group of people and sight unseen I knew it would be good hay so I put my name on 100 bales.  We rented a trailer and hooked up Buddy our Sierra 2500 HD this past Saturday and went to get our hay.  It was just as expected, soft, heavy bales and green green green!!!  The only issue was that the semi was loaded oddly.  200 bales were alfalfa, 200 were a mix and 200 were strait grass.  We picked through each bale that the loaders chucked at our truck and made sure each bale was strait grass.  We only unloaded a few rejects but those were going to a home that wanted them later that day.  Once we found about 60 bales of grass hay we kept hitting more and more alfalfa bales so we hopped into the barn with the crew and we unloaded the rest of the semi.

Then we headed to a pile that was mostly grass that had been unloaded earlier and finished up our count to equal 100 bales.  A lot of work!!!  We were sweating!!!  We paid for our bales ($11 for 65-70lbs bales and a couple dollar per bale goes to the charity....WIN WIN!!!!).  Steve and I headed back to KCRC.  We aligned the truck with a small shed on the property that I'd been given the go ahead to load up with hay.  We could have fit all our hay in there but I wanted at least 20 right where Dani's stall is for ease of feeding.  Dani grazed while we unloaded.  I don't think she really noticed the hay bales at first but when she did she walked right up to the truck and took a big sample.  She was so cute.  Pony stamp of approval!

My husband rocked, he arranged the hay bales in the shed like it was a scratchy, dusty game of Tetris.  We covered part of the bales with a tarp since the door doesn't close all the way, locked it and went to the stall and loaded the last few bales in there.  Then we swept up the bits and pieces in the bed of the truck and trailer and put them in Dani's feeder and a wheel barrow for the next days feeding.

The rest of the day was spent on our sofa at home watching Game of Thrones.  We were beat!  I'm a satisfied little squirrel though.  My nuts are safely stored for winter, I got a good price on hay and my girl is set for the winter, perhaps even the next year.  My whole entire sports bra was filled with sweaty hay bits and my arms were scratched up and itchy but it was worth it.  Just think, when we have two horses it will be double the supply of hay!!!!  I'm curious, what are the small bale hay prices in your neck of the woods?

Anyhow, I'm sure Dani loves having the bi-peds slave over her and provide for her every need.  Of course I wouldn't have it any other way but a tractor to move hay doesn't sound like too bad of a deal either.  Someday.....


Camryn said...

I so love the feeling of being set for the winter, along with just the smell of good hay! Till Hubs can put in a door to better access the loft in the new barn we're just doing 20 bales at a time. It's $6.00 a bale, picked up for Orchard with a bit of Timothy and a bit of Alfalfa at my guy. Oh, we're in N.E. Ohio area.

Lauren Bomar said...

I had to move to full care because buying hay bit by bit was outrageous! I loved self-care and my horses were in the best health back then...I also learned so much. Good Luck with the hay!!!!