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Boarding barn & hay choices

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  • Boarding barn & hay choices

    I saw something online that caught my attention and made me realize that I don't know what I would do if I were in the following situation.

    Have you ever been at a boarding barn that either fed hay that you horse didn't like or isn't as "high quality" as you would like? Or maybe the current batch of hay isn't up to standard of what they normally get, so the horses are wasting the hay instead of eating it. Or maybe your horse now has to be fed a different type of hay because of new health issues. Did you just deal with it or did you bring in your own hay for your horse?

    Also, this is assuming that the quality of care for the rest of the barn is "up to standard" and the barn isn't some hole in the wall, backyard place.
    Last edited by mydogs; Dec. 6, 2017, 10:04 AM.

  • #2
    Yes. First, bring the matter to the attention of the BO/BM. Bitching and bringing in your own hay without asking first is a recipe for getting yourself kicked out.

    May well be they are aware of it, got a bad batch, and are just stuck with it until it runs out. It happens.

    Comment


    • #3
      Agree with everything Obsidian Fire said

      If BO is not agreeable to you supplying your own hay then you will have to decide if that is dealbreaker enough to consider moving if everything else is up to par.
      The "health issues" you mention - can they be resolved by supplementing with haylage/cubes/supplements?
      Again, that would depend on your BOs approach to feeding supplements.

      My horses are at home & my neighbor is my hayguy.
      One field he cuts inevitably has some stemmy hay my horses turn up their (spoiled) noses at.
      All I can do is ask that he remember to not supply me from that cutting, But if he does I just suck it up as long as nobody loses condition.
      Eventually the hay they spread all over the stall is raked back (by me)& eaten - unless they have added peeing on it as "So there!" protest
      Then it gets added to the compost pile.
      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

      Comment


      • #4
        As a barn owner that feeds 25 horses through a Canadian winter and buys all the hay from a single supplier, I can promise you that I do my best to make sure all our hay is good quality. However, even in my ideal circumstance, some bales are nicer than others (just a product of the particular field or cutting). Every horse in my care is well fed and does not lack for hay. So they will often turn up their noses at a stemmy cutting. If my boarders complain, I do my best to explain the logistics of hay ordering and storage. A lot of the time we will try to put the less delicious bales outside as they can pick through it and it keeps them busy for longer outside, and as a bonus we won't have to pick it out of the stalls inside. So that could very well be what the issue is.

        If your horse has health issues and requires something the barn does not provide as part of its standard board (ie a different cutting or type of hay) then you need to bring it up right away and be prepared to pay extra or provide your own. You should not expect the barn to locate, order and store specific hay for your one horse. It's hard enough with hay prices now to get horse-quality hay without any other specifications. If your horse needs soaked hay (but can still eat the barn hay as long as it is soaked) try offering to make it as easy as possible for the BO. Buy a large tub or a wheelbarrow specifically for putting hay in so all the BO has to do is add water and put the hay in the stall (though be prepared that the BO may not be willing to do this either, it is still kind of a pain though I personally would do it).

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Interesting point of views, thanks! I most certainly never want to own a boarding barn!

          Princess Sparkles, as a BO, what would you do if a boarder offered to buy & bring their own hay at your barn? Would you be wiling to section off a spot for their hay and the boarder would be responsible for ensuring enough hay has been purchased? If the boarder came out everyday, would you allow them to bring a bale with them each time they came out if you did not have a place to store it? In my mind, all of that sounds exhausting to manage, unless the horse had health issues. But, curious to see how others would feel. We have boarders who want to give their horses alfalfa as a treat, so the boarders are responsible for storing and feeding.

          I, personally, think alfalfa pellets are easier to feed since I can put them in the baggies with my horse's supplements. But, I also like the idea of him getting flakes of alfalfa instead so he is eating it longer. Since I don't want to lift hay that often, 40lb of pellets is much easier to manage ha.

          Comment


          • #6
            I do self-board (as a teen and now as an adult), but follow the ups and downs of the life of my friend who is now running a boarding barn. I know my hay and feed reasonably well, and I also get to see the reactions of all the other self-board folks at my barn.

            First, yes, hay does vary from bale to bale and from batch to batch.

            Second, most horse owners In full board, and many horse owners in self board, do not know much about hay and feed, or how to evaluate hay. For instance, they may overfeed a horse and then say he "doesn't like" the hay because he isn't finishing up his meals. They may mistake dry alfalfa with the leaves breaking up for "dusty, moldy hay" (I got a real good deal taking that batch off their hands!). They may think that stemmy hay is low calorie (and give their pony founder by feeding it). They may be unable to differentiate between an obese horse and one in good condition, or to differentiate between a horse that lacks topline (because of protein or mineral deficiencies or the wrong work load) and one that is actually underweight.

            Third, if you your horse is in full board you are paying the BM to take over day to day care. No place will give you the obsessive attention to detail you can accomplish in self board or on your own property. You have to decide if the overall level of care and facilities is satisfactory, and if it isn't, then move.

            The best way to evaluate your horse's condition is to look at his condition. If he is keeping a good weight on the barn's feed then the hay is OK. If he is losing weight, then either the hay is not OK or he is not being fed enough. If your horse looks fine but "you don't like the hay" then that may not be a real issue.

            Fourth, I would think that any BM in a well-run full board barn would not be allowing random clients to bring in random bales of hay. Where will they be stored? How will you keep them out of general use? Who will feed it?

            You may be able to do this in some looser-run or backyard places, but in general, if you are paying $700 to $900 for full board at a competent place, why would you even be considering bringing in an extra $100 worth of feed a month?

            So, to sum up.

            Most horse owners don't know much about hay, and if they complain about the quality, the BM is probably rolling her eyes behind their back.

            On the other hand, if the feed is consistently substandard then your one option is to move.


            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mydogs View Post
              what would you do if a boarder offered to buy & bring their own hay at your barn? Would you be wiling to section off a spot for their hay and the boarder would be responsible for ensuring enough hay has been purchased? If the boarder came out everyday, would you allow them to bring a bale with them each time they came out if you did not have a place to store it? In my mind, all of that sounds exhausting to manage, unless the horse had health issues. But, curious to see how others would feel. We have boarders who want to give their horses alfalfa as a treat, so the boarders are responsible for storing and feeding.
              I am not Princess Sparkles but I am going to give an answer anyway, really I am going to give a bunch of questions.
              Things like depend on lots of things.
              Does a barn have space for extra hay storage? Will they (barn) be responsible for securing the hay for the horse owner? Will they be responsible for feeding the special hay? (Can you imagine going back and forth that many times to get special hay for each horse in the barn, oh my.) Will they be responsible for policing the hay supply (telling the people when they need more, making sure Dobbin's owner is not taking Star's hay, replacement if someone leaves the door open and it all gets rained on,etc)?
              Where would someone put a bale if they brought it out every day? Or are they feeding a whole extra bale every day?

              I agree with you, it sounds exhausting to manage so I can totally understand why a barn owner would simply say no thanks to doing that. We all know that if one person wants special hay then everyone will want special hay.


              Comment


              • #8
                [QUOTE=mydogs;n9950333]Interesting point of views, thanks! I most certainly never want to own a boarding barn!

                Princess Sparkles, as a BO, what would you do if a boarder offered to buy & bring their own hay at your barn?

                I'll add one more thing to the response from trubandloki , and that is: If I (BO) allow you to do it, how many other boarders are going to beat down my door wanting to do it also?

                That gets to be a very very big problem.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Boarding barn I kept my pally at for the one winter. Would absolutely not let any boarder, bring in there own hay.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have only boarded at 2 barns in my life and I can say that in both cases the BO's would do whatever was needed to supply the hay my horse needed.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If I don't like the hay, I buy my own after talking to the BO and what I do is have them supply a net of hay (when its empty they refill it) and hay outdoors and I'll give the hay I buy in a net to supplement. I usually fill 5 nets with 2 flakes and just keep a good rotation. The barn switches them out for me.Typically my pony will eat the good hay and then move on to the "other" hay. But if he doesn't have the "good" hay he will not touch the "other" hay. He's just a weirdo.

                      I store my hay in my garage and usually keep 1/2 a bale in the trunk of my civic. Makes it smell so good when I get in my car. Plus if I want to give my pony an extra flake, I'm not messing up the barns hay count.
                      "Anyone who tries to make brownies without butter should be arrested." Ina Garten

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        As the owner and manager of a small barn my best advice is to talk to the BO! We don't know what your concerns are until you say them in a constructive way and allow for us to reply to you with the background and go from there. I agree with the points everyone has said, what hay visually looks like isn't the most important indicator as the test is. Yes, hay needs to be clean and free of dust and ideally a nice palatable texture but the test is what really tells you what is being fed. I feed under 10 horses, some have some metabolic factors to consider. I just went through 8 hay test to pick the best options for the barn and landed on two. It's not easy!!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yes. I actually prefer to supply my own hay at this point. At one barn people could bring in their own hay and the difference was applied to the space taken up by individual hay supplies.
                          I’ve also see a small discount applied to the board.
                          Here’s why I prefer to buy my own hay:
                          1) I test all of my hay- I like to know what I’m feeding
                          2) excess supply- i don’t want to deal with being told i can’t throw an extra flake of hay to my horses when i want to. Since i feed very expensive hay, i can understand why they don’t allow this, but it’s not okay with me.
                          3) it’s more cost effective for me given the sheer size of my horses- most barns around here surcharge per flake which means my board bill would be sky high.
                          4) i want to be able to transition my horses- not rapidly switch from one load to the next.
                          5) i have horses with health concerns- one of the reasons i test my hay- i want my hay to be purchased because of the quality, not cost. If the hay is too stemmy one of my horses has digestive issues. I don’t expect a barn owner to turn away a batch of hay for 40 horses on account of my one horse but i would.
                          You don't throw a whole life away just because its a little banged up - Tom Smith

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            At one point, I was rehabbing a horse that had come to me in really poor condition. I had used the UC Davis protocol at the beginning, using Standlee Alfalfa compressed bales and Senior feed. After the horse had regained condition, I continued buying the Standlee aflalfa and feeding that as an evening snack before I left the barn. I did not ask permission, figured there was no reason I should have to, since it was not costing the stable any extra.
                            Jeanie
                            RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by dressager View Post
                              Yes. I actually prefer to supply my own hay at this point. At one barn people could bring in their own hay and the difference was applied to the space taken up by individual hay supplies.
                              I’ve also see a small discount applied to the board.
                              Here’s why I prefer to buy my own hay:
                              1) I test all of my hay- I like to know what I’m feeding
                              2) excess supply- i don’t want to deal with being told i can’t throw an extra flake of hay to my horses when i want to. Since i feed very expensive hay, i can understand why they don’t allow this, but it’s not okay with me.
                              3) it’s more cost effective for me given the sheer size of my horses- most barns around here surcharge per flake which means my board bill would be sky high.
                              4) i want to be able to transition my horses- not rapidly switch from one load to the next.
                              5) i have horses with health concerns- one of the reasons i test my hay- i want my hay to be purchased because of the quality, not cost. If the hay is too stemmy one of my horses has digestive issues. I don’t expect a barn owner to turn away a batch of hay for 40 horses on account of my one horse but i would.
                              Around here this is called self board or partial self board depending what is included. The horse owner supplies the feed and does all the work ( self board) or supplies the feed but the barn manager does the work ( partial self board).

                              I've seen it mostly offered for smaller places or backyard private barns.

                              Obviously if they are offering this, they've figured out storage space for the boarders different lots of hay.

                              It's a fine arrangement if the BM has chosen to offer it. I just think if you are in a barn with full board the BM is not going to have space for each boarder to have their own hay supply.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The only similar situation I've dealt with was as a boarder - shortly before moving my horses home, my barn switched to feeding exclusively dry hay cubes (note that these, upon further research, are special cubes that are meant to be fed dry). I about lost my mind, as I had just dropped a bunch of cash on ulcer treatment and my horse NEEDS hay in front of her always. I ended up bringing a garbage bag of hay (enough to fill her slow feed net to the point of bursting) each morning until I moved her (about 2 weeks later).

                                As a boarder, I wouldn't want to Leave hay lying around to go missing. As a barn manager now, I don't want to be responsible for "protecting" someone elses hay, nor do i want the hassle of making extra trips to retrieve said hay, unless said hay is medically needed. I will soak hay and cubes for seniors all day long.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I bought hay one year when the barn owner came to me in April and said he was out of the alfalfa my old horse was eating and wouldn't be able to get more until first cutting, which was probably about 6 weeks away. I did some calling around and got about a dozen bales from a friend, which I kept in our trailer and doled out carefully. What a PITA!

                                  I agree with others. Talk to the BM first, problem solve together if you can, and don't expect them to offer you space to store your own special hay. You didn't say what the problem actually is - changing turnout groups might be a solution if it's a round vs. square bale problem or alfalfa vs grass.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Thanks everyone!

                                    Just to clarify, I don't have a current problem with my barn. I was just curious on how this would be handled by others. I did have a problem in the past with the alfalfa hay and decided to buy my own alfalfa pellets to solve the problem. It costs a little bit more but I know what he is getting and how much.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by dressager View Post
                                      Here’s why I prefer to buy my own hay:
                                      1) I test all of my hay- I like to know what I’m feeding
                                      Interesting that you mentioned this! If I was at a smaller barn or a self-care barn (which, I was in the past), I would also be doing this, along with testing the grass. Nutrition has been such a big learning topic for me that I can't imagine not testing the hay & grass to absolutely ensure I am feeding my horse properly. I don't like guessing.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The buying and storing your own hay at the barn depends on tne barn, especially it’s size. 10-12 stalls MIGHT let you but they aren’t going to usually give you a discount or be responsible for anything except feeding it, they aren’t going to keep it locked up separately. If even three boarders jumped on seperate hay stashes it would get to be a PITA 2-3 times a day.

                                        Bigger barns it’s just not possible, there’s no room, no easy way to sort individual hay stashes and get them to the right horse and a negligible cost benefit to the barn so no discount. However, if a boarder stores their own hay in another location and brings it with them and feeds it, it’s their horse and they can do as they wish. But no discount, barns buy based on bulk tonnage or bales, their price is far less then an individual small batch price, so no typically discounts.

                                        Barn I was in for many years offered a very good alfalfa mix with a less rich choice for special needs. They would also proved and soak alfalfa cubes, particularly in early spring when they got to the bottom of the fall hay delivery and it was...tired.. Two concentrate choices, a regular and a Sr. plus they would handle a Cushings diet. High quality show barn so they were on it. Very little trouble with condition or colic. Averaged about 50 horses but could go as high as 75 head for short periods.

                                        Course it cost more but that’s a personal choice. There was one new gal who wanted the barn to store and feed some kind of special hay only available as a ton or equivalent # of bales. She insisted on it...they told her if she could get it into the hay storage, she could do it and they would feed it. It was a loft. The hay guy provided his own conveyor. She left.
                                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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