Is Your Hay Safe To Feed?


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The majority of your horse’s diet consists of hay, and that forage is a key part of your horse’s health and nutrition. When feeding your horse, it is important to make sure that they hay is of a good quality. Feeding poor-quality hay with problems like mold or dust can lead to health issues for your horse. Look out for these potential problems with your horse’s hay.

Dusty Hay

When you pull a flake out of a bale of hay, does a dust cloud float up? While all hay will have some degree of dust, feeding hay that is unusually dusty can lead to respiratory issues for your horse. As your horse tears mouthfuls off of the hay he’s given, he will stir up dust which can aggravate his breathing and his eyes.

If you have hay that is highly dusty, try to avoid feeding it. Ask your hay supplier if he is willing to replace the dusty bales. If you must feed the dusty hay, then soak the hay thoroughly before giving it to your horse. Take a hose and pull apart the individual flakes so that all of the hay is wet down. Doing this can cut down on the amount of dust in the hay, keeping your horse healthier.

Moldy Hay

Mold is a serious issue in hay. Feeding moldy hay to horses can result in serious cases of colic. While many horses will try to avoid eating the moldy sections of hay, it is not a risk that you want to take.

Mold can appear in hay as dark, discolored patches. It is often black or dark brown, and will have a bad odor to it. If you find mold in a bale, it is safest to throw out the entire bale. Be sure to carefully check the other bales that you have, as you are likely to find mold in other bales.

Mold signifies hay that was improperly cured. This can be a fire hazard; such bales can build up too much heat at their centers, causing them to catch fire. If you suspect that a load of hay was improperly cured, remove it from your stables immediately and send it back to the supplier.

Discolored Hay

Sometimes you will find bales of hay that are discolored. While some discoloration will occur with exposure to sunlight, too much exposure to light drastically reduces the nutritional value of the hay. If you find bales that are more closely colored like straw than like hay, you may need to replace them to ensure that your horse is getting proper nutritional value from the hay.

Always inspect each delivery of hay that you get for these issues. Your horse’s health depends on it.

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