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Aging of cut hay?

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    Aging of cut hay?

    We bought 3rd cut hay that is fairly green - green enough that neither of my horses can tolerate it, even by introducing it very gradually. We can return it but got 60 bales that I'd rather not have to move again. If we keep the hay, does it age/dry out so that it might be more tolerable? If yes, about how long does it take? (I know that temperature and moisture will definitely be factors affecting the hay). TIA.

    What do you mean by they won’t tolerate it? Is it too green as in really rich or too green as in really wet?


      Original Poster

      I'm guessing really rich. It's timothy.
      My mare has had mild gas colic twice and my gelding (who can eat anything) has very loose manure.


        That’s odd, what are you switching from? Timothy is usually tolerated pretty well if it’s put up correctly. But IMO I don’t think aging it will make them tolerate it any better.


          Original Poster

          Switching from another batch of timothy but 2nd cut. My mare is tricky so I'm not surprised with her, though I've taken weeks to try to switch her over and the best I can get without gas colic is 1/4 leaf at each meal. I thought I would probably have to bring it back but wasn't looking forward to moving 60 bales again.


            I think you will be better off returning the hay and getting hay from a different field. I do not think age on the hay is going to change whatever horses are reacting to. Maybe you could sell it to someone else instead of returning it, to save handling. Here, 60 bales is not much if we don't like it. Like an extra visit to the gym! But gas problems and consistantly loose stools would be enough reason for me to not feed it.


              I would not feed this hay if it is heavy and/or wet. Your horses are telling you that they do not like it.

              Timothy is usually a first cut hay and does not grow back up for a 2nd cut. At least here in Ontario.
              Timothy is not what I consider 'rich'. It, along with Brome,Orchard Grass etc are what I call 'grass' hay as opposed to the legumes. Our hay is mostly grass with a bit of clover and alfalfa.

              We only get the legumes - clover/alfalfa/trefoil - growing back for a 2nd cut and, for the most part, are considered too 'rich' for most horses. This type of hay is very thick, heavy and green...hard to get dry as the days are shorter and cooler.


                We do get second cut Timothy in Western Canada as well as second cut grass hay. Our local first cut grass hay in the BC Lower Mainland is very woody and mature when it's mowed in May or June after growing since January in the rain. Then there is second cut in August. Our Timothy is brought in from Alberta, Washington State or the dry parts of BC and there is definitely a second cut that only becomes available at the end of August.


                  In years past I had the same issue with second cut Timothy. It made my mare sick, very very sick. I would return the hay, even tho it's a royal PITA.


                    3rd cut of most anything will be pretty rich. All fine stems and very little fiber. Can you get some first cutting from somewhere else? That way you might be able to mix a small amount of the 3rd cut with that and kind of balance it out. They may tolerate it better if they eat the first cutting before you offer the small amount of the 3rd.


                      Are you sure there's no orchard grass in the hay? Sometimes it hard to tell it apart from Timothy if you don't have a trained eye. Orchard grass can cause the runs and other stomach upsets in some horses. I have a gelding that can't tolerate it at all.