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Country Discussion Topics
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How long will properly stored hay remain usable
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OKRon    Posted 10-22-2002 at 17:58:23       [Reply]  [Send Email]
About 3 years ago we allowed a friend to keep a couple of horses on our property. We have about 40 acres, and each year we sell hay to a local farmer (he bales it, keeps half of the hay for himself and buys the rest from us at the market rate). That year we asked our farmer friend to bale us up about 75 square bales for us to keep for the horses in the winter. We stored them in a fully enclosed barn. Before winter set in, the horse owner moved the horses back to her place, and we still had the hay.

This year we inherited a mammoth donkey, two pony mules and a horse. The "horse" friend gave us 60 square bales for the winter, since we had already sold all of our hay. We have stored that in another barn. Our farmer friend is going to bring us a big round bale later this winter if we need it. I've been to shy to tell either of them that I still have the 75 bales from 3 years ago, 'cause I don't need any more ribbing about being a misplaced city-slicker (which I am, but I don't need the ribbing).

You've probably seen the question coming: is there any chance that my 3-year old hay is still good? I've checked the archives and done an internet search but have not found a direct answer to the question. I was about to give up and just burn the stuff but I did read in one place about a fella feeding 15-YEAR-OLD HAY to his cows.

Any thoughts? (Gentle ribbing OK :-)

Tom A    Posted 10-23-2002 at 04:05:36       [Reply]  [Send Email]

As long as it isn't moldy or really dusty, it is 'safe.' As hay ages, it loses some nutrient value. It loses the highest percentage when it is new and then the loss slows as it gets older so 3 year old hay isn't that much less nutritious than, say, 2 year old.

If it were me, I'd check for mold and then would feed it, but would alternate a bale of the 3 year old stuff with a bale of new stuff, just to make sure my critters are getting enough nutrients.

good luck,

LH    Posted 10-22-2002 at 18:21:03       [Reply]  [No Email]
Ron just break the old bales open and make sure they're not moldy. Even if they're a little bleached out from sun it wont hurt your animals, but mold (especially black mold) will. I get old hay all the time for my horses and it's OK.

OKRon    Posted 10-22-2002 at 18:23:04       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thanks, LH.

JoeK    Posted 10-22-2002 at 18:08:06       [Reply]  [No Email]
In dairy farming we useta get a pretty close crop yr to yr.We'd try to feed up/give away all the "old" hay when we got ready for new crop.If old stuff was left,it was fed out to calves,steers and replacement heifers,new hay went to milking cows.It will lose some nutrient value which could be replaced w/supplements in feed..I guess other than dairy(for profit)I'd keep feedin it as long as they eat it well.If they quit eating it,it could still be used for bedding,mulch or placed along woods for deer/wildlife.

OKRon    Posted 10-22-2002 at 18:13:17       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Thanks, Joe.

I have a pretty good sized wooded area, so it's good to know that I have a use for it if the hooved animals won't eat it. My wife will like the idea too.

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