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Educate me about Hay

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  • Educate me about Hay


    I have some questions on hay, particularly on figuring out the quality of the hay w/o getting it tested. Of course testing the hay is the best way to determine quality but sometimes that is not feasible.

    So, is it possible to tell the quality of hay by looking at it or weight, smell, texture, etc?

    If two bales came out of the same field would they be the same quality/nutritional value?

    If two bales came out of separate fields on the same farm would they be the same quality/nutritional value?

    Is heavier hay more nutritional than light hay? or vice versa?

    Is finer hay more nutritional than the more course/straw-like hay? or vice versa?

    “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

    !! is the new .

  • #2
    I cannot answer your questions, BUT, I might have a solution for you...it's what I, luckily, fell into:

    I found a really good hay guy (actually it's three brothers). They are honest, and exceedingly patient; they spend time answering my naive questions. They take a LOT of pride in what they produce, and when hay was short last year because of our awful weather, they brought in hay from PA. Yes, they marked it up...$0.01 per pound (they sell by the pound, not the bale.) It was a big PITA for them to do, but they did it to take care of customers that were depending upon them.

    They take me out and show me some of their fields, and explain: for example, one the guys showed me a field of Orchard grass, with a "nursery" crop of oats sown in—to protect the grass. I watched one of them today turn the hay that had been cut yesterday ... then the guy that was running the tractor stopped to explain what he was doing and why. They also ask my opinion of the hay and how my horses like it.

    PLUS, once they finish with their hay for the season, and they're probably putting up 30-40,000 bales—they pay for the sampling and make it available to their clients.

    I'll be happy to recommend them, if you live in central VA. If you're in another state, start asking around...it took me over 18 months of looking to find these guys, but it was well worth the search.


    Oh, and one more thing: don't put up with ANYONE that doesn't value your business. I ran into so many (when I was looking) that acted like they were doing ME a favor by ALLOWING me to buy their hay. Horse feathers! If you run into someone like this ... keep looking. The good guys ARE out there!!
    Last edited by Oldenburg Mom; Jun. 19, 2010, 08:55 PM.
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders


    • #3
      Originally posted by *JumpIt* View Post

      So, is it possible to tell the quality of hay by looking at it or weight, smell, texture, etc?
      To a llimited extent only. At least you can check it's not mouldy, damp, dusty and doesn't have anything curious in it (e.g. dead rats or excessive ragwort)

      What you can't do though is check nutritional value.

      If two bales came out of the same field would they be the same quality/nutritional value?
      More or less yes. Or at least the variation isn't to worry about. Providing the field is managed to produce hay and it's not just a huge field with random grass seeds chucked all over the place.

      If two bales came out of separate fields on the same farm would they be the same quality/nutritional value?
      Not necessarily. If the fields were planted with different seeds then no.

      For example: For ponies I tend to have a paddock with a mixed grass of:

      Rossa and Barcel Fescue, Creeping red fescue, sheeps fescue, Cocksfoot, highland browntop, timothy and small amounts of sheeps parsley, yarrow and burnett.

      That's entirely different to the fields I ordinarily keep horses in and different again to where I keep my cattle and entirely different to where the sheep are.

      Is heavier hay more nutritional than light hay? or vice versa?
      It's wetter - higher moisture levels

      Is finer hay more nutritional than the more course/straw-like hay? or vice versa?
      It depends on what the grass seed is and also what time of the year it was cut etc etc etc.

      The only effective way to check the nutritional value of your hay is to get an analysis done.

      Either that or feed it to your horses and see how they do on it.