More from: Hay moisture

Horse Owners Are Picky About Hay Moisture Too

Hay stored by growers this winter will be used to feed both cattle and horses alike. Often times, discussions surrounding hay moisture levels are focused squarely on cattle and their needs. And yet horses are also affected by moisture levels. Suffice it to say that horse owners are picky about the hay they purchase.

Numerous factors ranging from moisture levels to storage practices can affect the quality, nutritional value, and safety of stored hay. Where horses are concerned, there are a number of molds that can be problematic. Here is just a short sampling of four of them:

Aspergillus – A health condition associated with this kind of mold can be quite harmful to older horses, younger horses, and animals with compromised immune systems. The spores of the aspergillus mold get into the lungs before spreading to other parts of the body. They can affect the heart, kidneys, blood, skin, and eyes.

Fusarium – The fusarium mold can cause respiratory distress and colic. More importantly, the mold can produce mycotoxins that could present acute problems for horses. This is a mold that horse owners definitely want to avoid.

Penicillium – The penicillium mold is the same mold from which we derive penicillin. It is also what produces blue cheese. Unfortunately, the mycotoxins it produces can be very problematic for horses. They can cause allergic reactions including irritation to the lungs, skin, and digestive tract.

Rhizopus – This mold is actually pretty common. It is responsible for bread mold, among other things. It can cause respiratory and digestive tract infections in horses.

Preventing Mold Growth in Hay

The best way to stop mold from growing in hay stores is to control both moisture and storage environments. We will begin with moisture levels. Experts recommend that hay intended for horses be harvested somewhere between 12% and 14%. Slightly lower is okay too. Once harvested, growers should be using electronic moisture testers to check on moisture levels on a regular basis.

Properly stored hay is easier to handle in terms of maintaining moisture levels. Hay should be stored in a dry, well ventilated area with plenty of room between bales for air to circulate. Bales should be kept away from direct contact with the ground. Mytee Products offers a number of effective storage solutions ranging from hay tarps to temporary storage structures.

Inspecting Hay Prior to Feeding

Growers can do all the right things to guarantee good moisture levels and proper hay storage and yet still have trouble. Buyers can cause their own troubles by not storing hay properly. In either case, experts recommend that horse owners thoroughly inspect hay before feeding it to their animals.

Owners should be breaking open baled hay and checking for mold growth inside. It is possible for bales to look completely fine on the outside but still be riddled with mold internally. They should also be smelling their hay prior to feeding. Odors can go a long way toward determining whether mold is present or not.

Hay that does not smell right is probably suspect. Experts recommend paying attention to a dusty or musty smell. Any such smell is sufficient evidence to suggest that hay could make a horse sick.

It is that time of year again when horse owners start looking for the hay that will feed their animals through spring. Smart growers will protect both their sales and their crops by maintaining proper moisture levels and in adhering to solid hay storage practices. If you are a grower in need of a moisture tester or storage solutions, Mytee Products has what you need.


Selling Hay: 4 Things Affected by Moisture Levels

With the final crop of hay for the 2018 season now behind us, the interest to think about hay and moisture testers  tends to be on the lower side. Even so, that does not diminish the need to be proactive about maintaining moisture levels. Moisture affects stored hay in ways that can prevent a grower from selling his or her crop over the winter.

Buyers want hay for their cattle and horses. Growers should know that the animals that will feed on their hay are as important to buyers as the hay is to them. As such, they should also expect buyers to be picky. They want the highest quality product at the lowest possible price.

Below is a short list of four things buyers look for when choosing a hay supplier. All four are affected by hay moisture levels. So just as a reminder, make sure you have a working moisture tester on hand throughout the winter months. Do not ignore moisture levels. If you do, you may not be able to sell as much product as you had hoped.

Supplier Quantity

Whether a buyer works with one supplier or many, he or she wants to know that the quality is there to support his/her animals until spring. Why does this matter to a grower? Because the last thing a grower wants is to promise buyers a certain quantity of hay only to discover he/she cannot deliver. Not delivering promised quantities is a fast way to lose customers.

Your average grower promises a certain amount based on current storage minus expected loss. But the grower also has to take care of his/her hay to ensure that losses don’t exceed the norm. Routinely checking moisture levels is a big part of that.

Supplier Reserve

Buyers typically expect to use a given amount of hay over the winter months. But they may have their own storage issues. Realizing that there’s always the potential for more loss than anticipated, buyers look for suppliers who have enough reserve to meet supplemental needs down the road.

Growers can encourage buyers to have their own hay moisture testers, store their hay in a dry place, etc., but having a reserve supply on hand helps in a big way. Buyers who know they can count on their suppliers for supplemental shipments in the event of shortfall quickly become loyal customers.

Hay Quality

This should be a given. Buyers don’t want to see excess mold growth when they break open a new bale. They don’t want to see hay that is so wet that it promotes bacteria, algae, etc. They don’t want to see bales that are so dry that they likely lack nutritional value. And that, by the way, takes us to the last item.

Nutritional Value

Both cattle and horses alike have specific nutritional needs. Buyers are looking for good quality hay with the right nutritional value to carry their animals through the winter. They will add to the animals’ diets with nutritional supplements if necessary, but buyers would rather not have to do that. They want good quality hay with its full nutritional value intact.

Both hay quality and nutritional value are impacted by moisture. Hay that is too dry tends to not be as nutritious; in some cases, excessively dry hay may offer very little nutritional value at all. Animals can eat to their hearts content and still lose weight.

With winter approaching, hay moisture levels are critical for a successful selling season. If you don’t have a working moisture tester on hand, now is the time to get one.