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Buying Hay and Feed in Bulk: How Much is Too Much?

Buying horse hay and feed in bulk can save horse owners a great deal of money. Many owners are reluctant to do so, however, because they are concerned that stored hay will spoil before it is used.

If stored correctly, hay can last for long periods of time, in some cases even years. In humid regions of the country, however, three years is probably the longest hay should be stored.

The key to successfully storing hay has much to do with what happens before the hay arrives at your farm. Hay needs to be baled at the right time, when it is not too damp. If it is baled when its moisture level is too high mold will be an issue.

Once the hay is in your possession it should be kept in a barn where it is safe from the weather. Barn-stored hay also should be kept off the floor of the barn and protected from rodents. While this method of hay storage will keep it from spoiling, nutritional losses are inevitable.

Fortunately, most nutritional loss will occur in the first weeks. Energy and protein will decrease much more slowly after the first few months. Vitamin A and beta carotene are where most losses are seen. For this reason, supplements are a good idea. While stored hay will not smell like freshly cut hay, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fed to animals as livestock feed.

Grains and commercial feeds such as hay or alfalfa pellets will not last as long as hay but are still good for about a year if it is stored correctly. When a feed has been heat processed, it can be stored for approximately six months. Textured feeds will not last as long. In most cases, 12 weeks is about as long as these feeds will last.

One important consideration when trying to decide how long you can store feed is the amount of fat the feed contains. The higher the fat content, the faster it will go rancid. To avoid feed going rancid prematurely, it should be stored in lower quantities. If stored too long vitamin and mineral additives also will no longer be as effective. Further, there is always the risk of grain components going bad.

In general, experts advise not purchasing or storing more than three months’ worth of feed. In some cases, this may even be too long depending on the climate the feed is being stored in.

 

Posted By: The Hay Manager

Posted on: 09/22/2016
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