More from: moisture tester

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.


Moisture Testers – Because Hay Needs Preserving

Mytee Products was built on selling truck tarps and other cargo control supplies to flatbed truckers. Over the years though, we have expanded our inventory to include products like moisture testers, hay tarps, and temporary storage buildings for growers and cattle owners.

When our non-agricultural customers ask us why we sell these things, the answer is simple: hay needs preserving. Cutting and baling hay seems like a simple thing to the uninitiated. It’s really not. For starters, a moisture level should ideally be under 20% before harvesting. Otherwise, microbes and bacteria will easily thrive in bale hay. Thus, the need for moisture testers.

A moisture tester works by sending electrical current through the hay. The speed at which the current returns to the tester will be affected by the moisture level in the hay. The technology is actually pretty simple. Having said that, moisture testers are even more critical today due to all the hybrids growers are working with. They can no longer rely on visual cues to determine moisture content.

When Hay Is Too Wet

Hay preservation is all about maintaining high-quality. Growers ideally want to sell a product that retains high nutritional value with very little crop loss as a result of mold and bacteria growth. Moisture levels are a major player in hay preservation. There are several reasons for this.

Hay that is too wet is a haven for mold and mildew. This is obviously not good for the farmer and rancher intending to feed the hay to cattle. Just a little bit of mold and mildew can ruin an entire bale. That says nothing of the various kinds of microbes and bacteria that normally grow in hay bales.

High moisture content allows these microbes and bacteria to thrive. When that happens, the microbes and bacteria generate heat. This is bad for two reasons. First, excess heat in bale hay ultimately ends up reducing its nutritional value by breaking down the hay over time. Buyers don’t want this for obvious reasons.

The other problem with heat is that it can cause spontaneous combustion. That’s right, the stories you’ve heard about bale hay burning on its own are absolutely real. As microbes and bacteria generate heat, the internal temperature of the bale increases. Hay deep within the bale can begin smoldering without anyone knowing it. That smoldering can continue for days until it finally erupts in an uncontrollable fire.

The Use of Hay Preservatives

One way to enhance hay preservation is to use preservatives. One of the more popular preservatives is something known as propionic acid. Before being used as a hay preservative, the acid is buffered in order to get its pH level as close to neutral as possible. That ostensibly makes it safe for animals. However, not everyone agrees that using propionic acid is a good idea.

Whether or not hay preservatives are your thing, getting moisture content correct is still the best method for preserving hay. Continually measuring moisture content in the weeks leading up to harvest is a good starting point. After that, it’s all about quickly baling and getting the hay undercover as quickly as possible. That’s why we sell hay tarps and temporary storage buildings, by the way.

Hay needs preserving if it is going to supply farmers and ranchers what they need through the winter. We are doing our part to promote hay preservation by supplying our customers with moisture testers, tarps, and temporary storage buildings. Everything you need to store and preserve your hay can be found here on our website.


Tips for Preparing to Install a Hay Storage Building

Throughout most of the spring and summer, we have featured a number of blog posts talking about hay moisture testers and electrified fencing. With the end of summer fast approaching, it is time to get ready for the fall and winter seasons. That means making plans for winter hay storage. One of our temporary hay storage buildings could be the solution you have been looking for.

We sell multiple sizes of storage buildings made with heavy-duty PVC fabric and galvanized steel framing. The advantage of using one of these temporary buildings as opposed to building a new barn is flexibility. Of course, lower costs are a big advantage as well. At any rate, it helps to start making preparations for installation now while the weather is still cooperative.

Carefully Choose Your Site

The first preparation tip is one of choosing your site carefully. The amount of protection your temporary hay storage building offers will be in direct relation to the site you choose. The idea is to choose a site that minimizes the chances of something going wrong. Here are some of the most important considerations:

Power Lines – Falling power lines could cause a lot of problems for your temporary storage building. As such, choose a site that is far enough away from power lines to be unaffected if weather brings them down.

Snow Drifts – You know from experience where snow tends to accumulate on your property. It is best to avoid a location that could encourage snow drifts to accumulate along the sides or on top of the building. Snow on top is especially troubling because it adds weight.

Overhead Threats – Also make sure to choose a site free of overhead threats like large tree branches or ice dams that may fall off a nearby home or barn.

Underground Utilities – Lastly, you will be driving anchors into the ground to hold your temporary storage building in place. Choose a site you know is free from underground cables and pipes. If you are not sure where cables and pipes are located on your property, call your local utilities and ask them to come out and mark locations for you.

Site Preparation

Once you have chosen a good site, you need to prepare it for installation. If the site is not already level, start the preparation process by addressing this. A level site is important so that moisture does not collect at one end of the structure, thereby spoiling some of your crop.

If necessary, dig some trenches to provide a bit of drainage underneath the crop. If you plan to install the building on top of a concrete pad, digging trenches will not be possible. You can accomplish the same thing by stacking your hay on top of pallets. That way, any moisture underneath will be kept away from the hay.

If you need to drill anchor holes, now is the time to do it. Drill your holes and insert anchors into them to keep them from closing back up between now and installation day.

Lastly, clear out debris, equipment, and anything else that might act as a hindrance to installation. Plan on a clear area of 15 to 20 feet around the entire perimeter of the site. You do not want to waste time and effort moving things on the day of installation.

If you are thinking of installing a hay storage building in anticipation of the coming winter, now is the time to start making plans. It is already mid-August. Cold temperatures and snowflakes are just a couple of months away.


Corn Silage and Moisture: Start Planning For a Good Crop

With spring planting now a distant memory, it’s time to start looking forward to harvest. Where corn silage is concerned, that means planning now if you hope to have the best possible crop in a couple of months. It also means paying attention to moisture levels. Like most grains, moisture content is critical to how well corn stores after harvest.

According to Drovers and PennState Extension, moisture content at the time of harvest is “one of the most important factors influencing corn silage quality.” The key is to match moisture content with the type of corn silage utilized. Growers should be using state-of-the-art moisture testers to determine moisture content before storing corn in their silos.

Moisture Content by the Numbers

Different silo configurations call for different moisture levels at silage time. Professors at Penn State say that corn destined for horizontal silos should have a moisture content of 65% to 70%. A tower silo calls for moisture content of between 63% and 68%, while limited-oxygen silos require 55% to 60%. Growers should target 65% moisture content for any corn destined for silo bags.

Why such variations? Because different silo configurations allow for different levels of air movement. Growers ideally want to find that sweet spot between moisture level at the time of harvest and the amount of air the crop will be exposed to during silage. Drier corn is more susceptible to mold and spoilage as a result of trapped air in silage. Excessively moist corn tends to lose some nutritional value thanks to poor fermentation and seeping.

The good news is that moisture testing is easy. It doesn’t take much to pull a handful of grain, put it in a tester, and read the result. Regular testing as harvest approaches keeps the grower fully informed of how his or her crop is doing. Having said that, the experts at Penn State say moisture levels should always be measured with an accurate tester. They recommend against estimating.

When to Silage Corn

PennState Extension recommends first measuring moisture content just as the milkline appears on the crop. The harvest date can then be estimated by applying a standard dry-down rate. A rate of between 0.50 and 0.75 is acceptable under most conditions. But also remember that the result is only an estimate; growers concerned about accuracy can always continue testing until harvest.

Use a Quality Tester

Knowing what we know about testing grain moisture levels, what Drovers and PennState Extension say about corn silage makes perfect sense. We are not experts in corn silage by any means. However, we are experts in moisture testing equipment. We have a full inventory of moisture testers for a variety of needs.

 

We recommend one of our top loading grain testers for your corn prior to silage. If you also grow hay, we have a number of portable rod testers for keeping track of moisture levels in baled hay. Each one of our testers is made to the highest possible standards for many years of reliable service.

We know how important accurate moisture level testing is for the American grower. Crop moisture levels can mean the difference between maximizing a crop and sustaining heavy losses. We obviously don’t want our customers losing significant portions of their crops due to not keeping track of moisture levels.

If you grow corn, now is the time to start thinking about harvest and silage. Remember, different silo configurations call for different moisture levels in harvested corn. If you’re not sure about your own crop, your local cooperative extension can probably help.