Buying Hay With Confidence

I recently attended a hay auction where a woman walked up to me and asked for advice on buying hay. She confessed she had no idea how to distinguish horse quality hay and needed help choosing which hay to purchase. I did my best to give her a quick summary of what to look for, but I'm afraid she still went home empty handed. Instead of feeling insecure about choosing your hay, know the facts so you can buy hay with confidence . Spring is the perfect time to take inventory of what you already have on hand, plan ahead on what you’ll need, set a budget to buy quality hay, and make some hay contacts before cutting season. I’m going to breakdown what to look for in great hay, and how to choose a good hay supplier.
Good quality horse hay should be leafy, fine-stemmed, free of weeds, and have a bright green color. Look for dust or black spots indicating mold. In some cases, you can even smell mold and feel heat inside the hay. Bales should be heavy and dense. They should also be neatly baled with tight wire or twine strands, unless you want to end up with what my family calls "banana bales." This is an excellent time to use your senses. Touch and feel the hay for good texture. Look at the color of the grass, and check for weeds or sticks. Smell for freshness. It is also important to know what kind of hay, weeds, and insects are native to the area you live. Payne county mainly grows prairie grass hay, alfalfa, and bermuda hay. Alfalfa, being a legume, has the highest protein percentage found in these three hays but must be fed with care, due to the prevalence of blister beetles. Watch out for stickers in hay that has been baled in sandy soil. Wire grass, or tickle grass, is also a concern for horse owners in our area. The awns of this weed can become lodged in the gum line and produce painful open sores. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension has excellent information regarding horse hay in Payne County. Use the research they've already done to your advantage! Want to know exactly how your hay measures up? The Oklahoma Extension office also offers forage testing.
There are several easy ways to find a good hay supplier, but the tricky part is learning how to keep them. Ask your horsey friends who they buy hay from, and they're likely not to tell you. Once you've found a good supplier, you'll do everything you can to keep them. We met our supplier at a hay sale, but you can also look on craigslist, the Shop and Swap, and specific hay websites, such as HayExchange.com. Once you find someone fair and reputable who sells hay that is of good quality and at a price within your budget, make it known to them that you will continue to come back. Always pay on time, be friendly, and treat them with respect. In our case, our hay supplier has turned into much more than just someone we buy hay from. Going on vacation and need someone to let the dogs out? We call our hay guy. Need to borrow a gooseneck trailer last minute? We call our hay guy. Stranded on the side of the highway, in the middle of the night, in a different state? Call our hay guy's DAD. Once your kids start referring to them as "Uncle," that's when you know you've reached a new relationship level with your supplier. John has become a great family friend to us and it all started by buying hay out of his barn just like anyone else. Now, hay is the very least of our relationship with him. That's the sort of relationship horse-owner's should strive for with their hay suppliers.
Bad hay isn't just a waste of money, moldy hay can cause respiratory problems and even colic. Blister beetles can cause your to become very ill, and some grass awns guarantee a trip to the vet. The best test for good hay is the well-being of your horse. Body condition and overall health can show you pretty quickly whether a hay is suitable or not. Don't let hay-buying become a chore you dread. Think ahead and plan early who you'll be buying hay from this year and be confident in the quality of hay you're feeding

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About Allie
About Allie

Welcome to my blog! My name is Allie and my passion is caring for horses. My days consist of feeding, cleaning, and nurturing my two favorite things: horses and my little girl! I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in equine ownership and life as a business-owning mommy!