It isn’t an easy job when it comes to buying hay.
Before I boarded my horses it was a terrible wait and see game. I never knew when I went to buy hay if it was going to be good or bad. I found more bad hay then good hay.
I was always worrying if I was going to run out before I found any. I admit I was selective but it kept my horses from getting sick and having those high vet bills.
I was always worrying if I was going to run out before I found any.
I admit I was selective but it kept my horses from getting sick and having those high vet bills. I looked at it as a preventive measure.HorseMoms Mary
When we are in need of hay now and we can’t shop around for hay we have nothing more than our eyes and nose to judge the quality of the hay. Depending on the previous growing season or local supply and demand often our choices are limited.
Since most of horses diet should be made up of hay we really need to find hay that won’t hurt our horse.
Your horse’s digestive system is designed to digest fiber. It needs this to maintain proper intestinal function.
At least 50% of your horses diet needs to be hay50%
That means if you feed 10 pounds of grain they need 10 pounds of hay. Poor quality hay can also put stress on the microbial population in the horse’s stomach.
The most challenging part of buying hay is knowing what the nutritional value is which can be inconsistent making it hard to manage your horse's diet
The nutritional value of hay is inconsistent because hay fields aren’t always fertilized, they are full of weeds, damaged by weather and harvested too late.
What can you do?
1. Purchase large quantities of quality hay from the same field.
2. Have your hay tested for nutritional value. You can go to your local agricultural extension center to have it tested.
3. Buy hay that is already chopped and bagged at your local feed store.
4. When buying hay evaluate the hay on the stage of plant maturity. The younger a plant is at harvest the higher the overall feed value. As a plant matures it’s nutrient value goes down.
Also the plant becomes more fibrous making it hard for your horse to digest. A young plant will have a thin stalk and leaves at the top. The more mature a plant gets the thicker the stalk, the head of the plant goes to seed and can turn yellow and brown.
Hay VisualYou want your hay to look green and smell good.
Farmers do have difficult decisions to make when it comes to cutting hay. If it is cut at the best stage of development the yield decreases meaning less hay for the farmer to sell. Also weather places a big roll if and when they can cut. They need good weather so the hay can be cured adequately so your horse can eat it later.
I’m currently boarding my horses and I’m glad I don’t have to worry about hay trying to find good hay. Good luck to you all.
Talk to your soon,
Horse Mom Mary