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Hay How to buy a bale of hay.

rogersmithiii

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I keep livestock in addition to my GP. Hay is a big deal when it comes to keeping grazing animals happy, well-fed and healthy. Here's some basics when it comes to finding good sources of hay. The good part is that a bale of hay will last the average GP owner a good long time, at least compared to people who own cows or horses.

Hay is categorized by "cutting", meaning how often the field was cut during the growing season. Generally, the later the cut, the better the hay. Here's why. Hay should be cut when the grass is leafy, and middle-aged. When the hay reaches this level of maturity in the spring, stormy weather makes it much too wet to cut it. Baled wet hay molds VERY quickly, and becomes a health hazard to anything eating it. As a result, the farmer has to wait to cut the hay until the fields have dried (June in my neck of the woods). By this time though, the hay plant has become stemmy, tough, and full of seed heads. This reduces the nutritional content of the hay.

The next cut (second cut) can be harvested in July or August when the plant is at the peak of it's nutritional content. This means that second cut hay is leafy, green, soft and tender, and can be dried in the sun without too much difficulty. It's better quality hay.



How do you know if a bale of hay is decent?

First, smell it. Good hay should smell fresh and enticing. It should not have any strange smells, nor smell of mold and mildew.

Second, take a sample flake, and slap it and fluff it up. You shouldn't see much dust lofting into the air. Moldy hay generates a cloud of white dust when you slap it or fluff it. If you see dust, don't buy the hay.

Third, lift a bunch of bales. If the bale feels excessively heavy compared to others, then it was probably baled wet, and is now moldy.

Fourth, look at the bale. If you see lots of stems, seed heads, weeds or other foreign plant material included with the grass, find another bale.

Fifth, look at where the hay is stored. Good hay needs to be protected from any sort of rain or dampness, and is best stored in a loft with lots of ventilation and shelter. Hay should never be stored outside under a tarp, out in a field, or in a damp, barn basement. Hay should also be kept out of direct sunlight as well. It should not have any moldy patches, nor should it have any color changes on the outside of the bale. Be careful buying a bale that sits on the very bottom of the loft. These bales can often be moldy.

In my neck of the woods, a decent bale of second cut hay runs around $6.00 - $7.00 if you buy it off the hay wagon right after cutting. The longer you wait in the year, the more expensive, and scarce it becomes.
 
Last edited:

CavyLuver516

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Thanks for this - I have been having trouble finding a good bale of hay. Maybe this will help me!
 

rogersmithiii

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Check around horse stables. Horse people are very picky about hay quality. Any decent stable will have what you need, and I'll bet that they would sell you a bail.
 

rogersmithiii

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Sorry. Bale. Typo.
 

JD In Van

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Check around horse stables. Horse people are very picky about hay quality. Any decent stable will have what you need, and I'll bet that they would sell you a bail.


I get hay cheap cheap off of some show horse people or from my horse feed shop. Because the quantities I need are so miniscule in compared to what they're needing for horses they barely miss the couple bags I take. I pay about $3 for about a garbage bag size bag, a mix of 2nd cut west coast blue grass and timothy hay (I can't unfortunitely store a whole bail in my tiny apartment) and it's way less dusty then the crap from the pet store which would run be about $50 to get the same amount.

If anyone lives in a rural area just go to the horse folks it's worth it.
 

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