Jan. 16, 2010, 02:32 PM
When I went to the barn where my friend boards her horse, I noticed they have some of those gigantic bales out in the field. Just like that - out in the open. When it rains/ snows, the hay gets soaked and does what it always does, spoils and gets moldy. After years of carefully checking hay for mold, I just don't get it - why aren't these horses getting sick from bad hay? The fields are snow-covered or mud pits depending on the temperature, so there's nothing else to eat.
Jan. 16, 2010, 04:29 PM
If there is always enough feed, horses won't eat bad feed. I'd worry more about botulism than the mold if it's that warm though. You can vax for it.
I've had the occasional round bale go bad when pasture comes in enough that they don't finish it, and of course that time of year it DOES mold. They just stop bothering with it. No one has ever eaten a bad spot in a round bale.
What I have seen is horses who are stalled who ONLY have their two or three flakes, eat bad stuff because they are hungry. A stalled horse with enough forage will leave bad hay... same thing.
I feed rounds from Nov to April. If it rains, it freezes again soon enough that it freezes rather than molds. If I have to feed rounds in warmer months, I feed off them and cover the bale if we're going to have wet weather.
Even then there might be a spot on the bottom where it was against the ground... if I don't catch it though, they don't gobble it down.
I also have a theory that is purely my own, that if they sometimes get a little tiny bit of mold, they don't react as badly to it as a horse who has never, ever had a spot of it then gets some.
I think of it the same way as people--people who sometimes eat a little bit of spoilage seem to have the gut bugs to deal with it fine, vs. people who never, ever get any and get much more violently ill. Of *course* the type of spoilage makes a difference... but I'm talking more about milder things at a church picnic type stuff...