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Not One Type of Hay is “Best” and Other Hay Myths

Hay is commonly used as livestock feed, but misconceptions about it still persist. These myths range from what type of hay is “best,” if certain types of hay are dangerous and which animals require what types of hay.

First of all, no type of hay is “best.” That is, hay quality is ultimately a matter of proper management and harvesting. Any species or variety of hay, therefore, can be the “best,” but using a certain type of hay is no guarantee when it comes to quality. Additionally, round bales are not inferior. Specifically, they are not more likely to contain botulism. Although round bales are often stored outside, which can expose them to moisture (in which the botulin bacterium thrives), covering bales and exercising common sense in not feeding livestock moldy hay is sufficient to protect livestock from contracting botulism. Likewise, hay quality cannot be distinguished based on color. So merely saying that green hay is superior to brown hay would be inaccurate. Hay must be tested in order to assess its quality, as hay quality does not affect color, nor does color affect quality.

Moreover, rained-on hay can still be fed to livestock. Whether or not hay that has been exposed to rain ought to be fed to livestock should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Usually, if hay has only recently been rained on, there should only be a minimal drop in quality. This does not mean that one should haphazardly ignore any possible repercussions of hay that has been exposed to lots of moisture. It is still key to examine the hay for mold or dust, which are more likely to be present if hay has been exposed to precipitation.

Additionally, horses and cattle do not necessarily require different quality hay. In general, horses digest hay less efficiently than cattle, so cattle will generally respond to lower-quality hay better than horses. However, this should not be taken as a rule of thumb, and cattle should not be given lower-quality hay, no questions asked. One must consider livestock’s workload and current health when it comes to feeding. When it comes to an inactive horse and a lactating cow, the cow will require higher-quality hay, despite what conventional knowledge might dictate. On the other hand, a race horse will need high-quality hay, but a non-pregnant cow will demand lower-quality hay.

There are many misconceptions surrounding hay. It is important to be informed about these misconceptions and to not base one’s feeding habits on false knowledge.

 

Posted By: The Hay Manager

Posted on: 06/24/2018
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