Is it really worth bringing back one or two bales $11 here and there to a distributor if you consider gas and time? A large amount of bad hay is one thing; that could be thousands of dollars. A large bale that is moldy is worth exchanging since they are several hundreds of pounds of hay and cost around $100-200 a bale. When is it actually worth it to get a small hay bale exchange? When is it easier to just chuck the small bale? So far I've just tossed them as I've been mostly happy with this load.
All hay has a bit of dust from the ground in which it was grown and from tiny bits of hay created from processing, moving, storing etc. The plume from a moldy section actually looks like poofs of smoke when you open up the section. I try to be cautious of every bale I open and look for any signs of mold. Brown bits of hay do not necessarily mean it's moldy but a lot of it should make you look at the hay a little closer. I think the biggest give away for me is a really compact and hard to separate flake. I don't have a good sense of smell but if my nose is right up against the moldy area it does smell a bit musty. I can't rely on my sense of smell alone. Hopefully this video will help others understand what moldy hay looks like. Make sure you have good lighting where you feed your horse so you can see the hay well.
Next year KCRC will get the hay committee in full gear I hope. Those that had a good deal this past year I'll touch base with and see what they really thought of their hay. If we can get a co-op together that will rock. I may have two horses next year so it will be even more paramount to find a good source of hay.