November 22, 2013

A Little More on Hay

Being a self-care boarder I've had to learn a lot about hay since May.  I still have a lot to learn.  My biggest issue has been with mold.  The recent 100 bales I received from the West Slope of Colorado have been good but a little inconsistent; some have a little bit of alfalfa and then there are some so compact that mold is an issue.  I'm still doing some research on hay producers for next summers hay purchases since I'm not 100% satisfied.  Still the bales that are good are good and Daenerys approved.  I've only had about 3 so far with issues or partial issues.  Maybe I'm just really particular or picky being so new to horses but as I've said before, I'd rather through away a $11 bale than have a huge vet bill from feeding bad hay.  I'd also rather throw away hay I'm just not certain sense risking it!

I need to find a good consistent producer of hay for next year; one that I can rely on and if I do find inner moldy flakes perhaps have the guarantee to bring a bale back...though that seems like it could be a pain for only a bale here and there.  I do have the guarantee where I bought this hay, it's a charity I'm supporting, but it's not their hay, it's hay they purchased and sold for a small profit to help with their mission.  I don't feel right bringing a bale here and there back, they don't have this hay supply anymore and may not have a replacement bale...hence I'd be taking money from them in a sense.

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.

My husband has asked about what moldy hay looks like; I saved him a flake once to show him but when I had about half a bale of issues I decided to whip out the iphone to make a short video; it is easier to see in video I think than some of the photos I've tried to take with my iphone.  Sometimes mold is subtle.  Sometimes it's pretty obvious.   Here's a quick video about a bale that had a large section of mold that was pretty obvious.  


 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.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I almost always have at least four bales with each block that are moldy, whether it be caused by the hay farmer or my storage faults. I've never returned or exchanged any, because it's such a hassle, but I do give the hay farmer feedback on the quality of the hay the next time we do business. Then I become the squeaky wheel and he knows better than to slip me a few cruddy bales on purpose. I suspect when their bales go bad, farmers work a few of them into large orders just to get rid of them and still get paid. I'm due for a couple of blocks to keep us tied over until summer, and of course, I'm going to run out over the holiday. But I can't just move the bales and clean out the pallets right now because it's been raining like crazy and there is mud everywhere.

Anonymous said...

How did you make the feeder in that picture? That is exactly what I want to do!
I also seem to have a couple bales every load that have some mold, seems to be part of the process.

Christie Maszkiewicz said...

Well I started out with a slightly different design using lattice.

That kept breaking so I ended up adding more eyelets and chains to work with the flexible nibblenet sheet I think it would work better if the edges weren't flexible, thinking of looking into PVC piping to make that work a little better. It's a work in process.

I love the nibblenets, have a XL bag and now the bin so Dani always has hay available to her all day long!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info! I have been using cinchnets (
but they are hard to fill in the cold of winter and get lost in the mud sometimes too, so I'm trying to figure out something more straightforward.