Barn owner just bought 50 bales of fresh cut/baled alfalfa. She just brought it in today and I went out to the hay shed to look/touch/smell this evening, it felt moist to me. Now I know NOTHING about growing, cutting, baling, etc. I DO know what I like in looks, smell and texture though. I've tried to google some info and I've found that yes alfalfa does get baled at a higher moisture content, but not sure what this should feel like. I've read about a few tests that I'll try tomorrow. It just goes against everything I currently know that it feels as moist as it does.
I have bought baled alfalfa before, after it's been stored so never fresh from field, and it's always felt dry to the touch. I actually have a bale of alfalfa that got mixed it with the orch/alf hay that I bought not too long ago and it's also dry. Now my horse will not be getting this alfalfa either way as I've decided to buy his hay for the winter after not liking what the barn owner has purchased for the winter (this alfalfa is supposed to "supplement" the other not great hay). But the other horses at the barn will be getting it and all I could think after feeling these bales is 1) it's going to mold and 2) it's going to set the hay shed on fire at some point.
Sooo can anyone tell me if this is normal for fresh cut/baled alfalfa? Does it just need to continue drying or am I'm right with my 2 thoughts above?
I wouldn't call it wet per say, but it's definitely moist compared to all hay the I've ever bought. That's the only word I can think to describe it... when you pick up handful you can just tell it's not dry. It doesn't leave your hand damp or anything.
All the fresh alfalfa I've ever bought has definitely felt more moist than other hay. Usually it's also much cooler to the touch, in my experience. But I don't know anything about baling/storing/the magic that goes into making my horse's hay, so take what I say with a grain of salt...
I believe hay has to have a "sweating" period of about 30 days... My hay guy would never sell "fresh" hay.
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One way to tell if the hay was put up too wet is dangerous, but sure works, is in two or three days stick your hand in there and if it is getting very hot, you have a problem.
Better be sure and never put hay that is not quite dry in a barn.
At best, alfalfa will either just mold, caramelize or burn a hot spot that puts itself out without oxygen and stop at that.
At worst, you will have a fire.
Waiting for hay to cure outside and then put it in the barn won't work when outside it may get rained on.
Best to get hay from someone that knows what they are doing and back that up with a moisture probe.
I've had my hayguy leave a wagonload of grass hay - where some of the outer bales felt like lawn clippings - in my indoor for a week.
This was in June and after that week the bales were dry enough to stack.
I've also had a load rained on - heavily - removed the outer bales & set them on pallets in the indoor and they dried fine too.
Tell your BO your concern, better to be thought a fussbudget than face a barn fire.
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My alfalfa is definitely cured correctly and it feels sticky - not wet, but there is a difference for sure between it and regular grass hay. Is that perhaps what you feel?
And it if is fresh baled, it is more likely to feel this way as it continues to lose moisture. My husband grows really nice alfalfa and directly out of the field it can feel that way, and he stacks it cut side up to allow the moisture to be released, and also keeps sticking his hands into the middle of the bale to make sure it is not heating up. He pulls heavy bales aside and keeps them together to check more frequently.
As someone mentioned already, alfalfa can cure great, or can get malburn (the carmelization mentioned above), or mold. As it is in the barn longer, even slightly damp hay can cure correctly and be very good. Alfalfa is tricky to bale in the East Coast because of our humidity. You want enough moisture to keep the leaves when baling, but not too much in the stems and bale to cause mold.