Tennessee Walking Horses of Minnesota
Question: I recently purchased hay that feels a little moist but its not hot. After a week, if its not hot, will it still get hot or moldy? How will I know that the hay is good?
Response: Hay typically goes through a curing process after harvest and the temperature inside the bale usually peaks between 11 and 14 days after baling. Its common for hay to be warm to the touch during this time; however, hay should never feel hot.
Most mold is directly related to moisture at the time of baling (poor storage condions can also lead to mold).
Small square‐bales baled at less than 16% moisture will rarely mold, while hay baled at greater than 18% moisture will likely mold. Hay baled between 16% and 18% moisture is a gray area and can either mold or be good quality.
To determine moisture, you should take a forage sample with a forage probe. You may be able to borrow a forage probe from a local feed store or Ag Coops Many commercial feed companies that sell horse feed also oﬀer hay testing services. Core about 10% of the bales in your load and submit it to a commercial forage testing lab.
Ensure the lab has a forage analysis for equine digesble energy so the resulted are useful to your horse (vs. a cow or other livestock).
The resulting hay analysis will tell you the percent moisture of your hay.
Alternatively, you can wait a minimum of 14 days and then open several bales. If the opened bales appear to be good quality and have not molded, the hay should be suitable for your horses. If properly stored, the hay should remain good quality throughout the year. If the bales are moldy or dusty, then return the load (if possible). Moldy hay should never be fed to horses.
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