For many new horse owners, there is potentially nothing that puts you out of your depth more than feeding decisions.? Buying and storing hay is no exception, and has the added difficulty that it can be a major investment, especially when buying large amounts to last the winter months.? To reduce the chance of mold infestation that could cost you your entire investment and inflict serious harm to your horse, you will need to ensure that your hay is dry and mold free from start to finish. ?
When you are considering where to purchase your hay, be sure to inspect the quality of their products prior to laying down a lot of money.? Take an experienced horse person with you who can help identify the signs of mold ? bales that are dusty, discolored, darker than usual, or even white.? Feeding dusty hay to a horse can cause serious problems, so be sure that the hay you are purchasing is dust-free.? Talk to the seller and confirm that the hay was cut when it was dry.? Physically check the bales to see if they seem dusty, damp, or if you can see any signs of discoloration or mold.? You might want to smell the bale as well ? good hay should smell sweet and look clean.
Do not have your hay delivered in wet weather ? even if the hay is covered with tarps it will likely get wet as you transport it from the truck to the storage area.? Also make sure your storage area or hay loft is clean and dry.? If stacking on the ground, put your hay on pallets first.? Try to avoid stacking hay against barn walls that may become wet with condensation.? If you live in a particularly damp climate, or have a storage area that is difficult to keep dry, you might consider covering your stacked hay with a tarp, and using dehumidifiers and fans.