Farm life

Bad Hay…What Do I Do?

When we moved here in January we were a little screwed in regards to hay. We needed enough to get us through until 2017 first cutting but 2016 was a drought year and pretty much all stores were gone. I managed to find some horse quality hay and while it wasn’t the greatest, it was good enough to supplement the green fescue in the pasture. The horses ate it fine with

minimal waste but I wasn’t thrilled enough to purchase again.

Once the first cutting was made, and it was a great spring for hay around here with with a perfect combination of rain and sun, I researched a new supplier and found a guy up north by the NC/SC border. Hay was $7/bale plus a $160 delivery fee, but it showed up green and delicious. I got 50 bales and was thrilled with the quality. The horses chowed down on it and all was good.

Gemmie is looking smashing these days. Other than the mare glare

Until….

I had a client mention that she had 1,000 bales of first cutting fescue they needed to sell to make room for their second cutting coming off the field soon. Her typical buyer is Clemson University but they started baking their own and didn’t need nay. She was selling it for $4/bale and lived only 3 miles from us. I told the hubby that it was worth a look at least as it would save us some money and we could stock up on another 50 bales. We went out a couple of weeks ago and while the bales were extremely loose (like a few completely fell apart trying to move them loose), they were green had very minimal stems and smelled like hay.

Not sure why she was so annoyed with me on Sunday, but she is still pretty

We loaded up the trailer and truck bed and filled our garage to the brim. I was happy to see a full stock of hay that I knew would last us at least through the fall.

Except I noticed the horses would not eat it. The piles I put out remain there untouched. The grass is starting to grow again with the cooler temperatures, but even the best spring grass is typically ignored for hay by our fat horses. For them to not even look our way as we put it out is odd.

Hay. Not as good as Timothy or orchard up north, but good for the fescue down here

So they hate it. We have plenty of the other first cutting left to feed them so it’s not an issue of not having hay to feed. The issue is what on earth I’m supposed to do with 48 bales of hay my horses won’t eat. I don’t think I can sell it. I mean my add would have to read “$4/bale fescue hay, first cutting, horse quality although my horse won’t eat it”. Who is going to buy that? It’s been such a great hay year that everyone is pretty stocked up for the year and a third cutting is basically going to waste as nobody has room for it.

I can’t keep throwing it out in the pasture just to watch it be ignored and then have to rake it back up. I have no idea why they won’t eat it. It’s green, smells like hay and has very little stems in it. It looks identical to the northern hay which is also fescue but for some reason they won’t touch it. Do I take 48 bales to the dump?

What do I do with all this hay??

31 thoughts on “Bad Hay…What Do I Do?”

  1. So sorry this happened to you. I have no helpful advise, just a quote I learned the hard way. The most expensive hay is the hay your horse won’t eat. Obviously meaning that cheap hay isn’t cheap if they don’t like it.

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  2. ugh well isn’t that frustrating 😦

    maybe with halloween coming up you can pass it off as straw bales to local shops or attractions that want to decorate? or may straw men? or need extra bales for hay wagon rides?? lol…. or maybe go set up a little track of hay bale jumps out in your field to school over until gem is bored to death of them??

    sorry that’s about all i got as far as ideas, but that definitely sucks that it’s crummy hay 😦

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  3. Take a sample to your ag extension office and get it tested. Packing a loose bale is a dirty trick. I won’t buy hay that gives a bunch in the strings, the farmers adjust their equipment on purpose to make a lite bale. Fescue has an organism that makes it especially tasty to eat but will encourage a much thicker birth sac in pregnant mares. Maybe Clemson has a breeding program & needed the organism free (but less palatable) hay, but if that’s the situation in not sure why they wouldn’t just feed orchard in the first place. Honestly, I have no answers, just tidbits of info I’ve picked up along the way. Maybe you could contact a goat farm or petting zoo to see if their critters would be interested.

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    1. It was really annoying when we noted how loose they were baled. If it hadn’t been a good client of mine I would have just walked away. Plus they are really old…I think mid 80s…and Dusty can never say no to an old person.

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  4. Are there any local farm animal rescues near by? They might be interested in a donation. If we get a bad bale or two in a load, it usually ends up on the compost pile or in the garden over fall and winter so the chickens can have at it.

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      1. Just be honest and tell them your horses wouldn’t eat it. Also, look for places that rescue other barn animals. Goats and pigs especially would probably love it.

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  5. Ugh sorry. Our BO last year purchased grass hay so crappy we were finding mold, weeds, almost all stems etc. Our stalled horses would literally hold out for alfalfa dinner (and my mare wasnt picky).

    Maybe post up on FB as cheap, available for decor, other livestock etc. Hopefully you can at least recoup a little. Our park district uses old hay to cover hillsides at times.

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      1. Any local corn maze/ Halloween fun places by you? Maybe they wiuld want it? Gun / archery range behimd targets? Probably easier to off load small chunks then bulk

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  6. A couple of suggestions: see if there are any cattle farms around looking for hay; they’re not nearly as picky as horses are, and can digest less nutritionally-rich hay better than horses can. Also, you could use it as bedding for your shelter in case this fall and winter’s rain amounts make it muddy under there again. 🙂

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  7. Advertising as cattle hay, priced to move quickly sounds like the least labor intensive idea.

    We lost about fifty bales to hurricane Matthew flooding last year. I used them to fill low spots and mulch bare areas where I wanted to hold grass seed down. Nothing worse than having to double or triple handle hay bales…

    Good luck!

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  8. I had a similar experience this spring. My horses got used to the ah-mazing! hay we’d been throwing all winter. The new batch was fine, but not the same quality and they turned their noses up at it. BUT they had grass and were in good weight so I just let the pile sit and didn’t throw anything else for a couple days (the weather was nice and dry). Eventually, they grudgingly ate it. After that, they stopped turning their noses up at it. I think they were just spoiled!!!

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    1. The last pile I put out did disappear last night so maybe they are learning that they wont have another option any time soon. It is good hay though so I don’t feel bad feeding it. Trainer looked at it and told me my horses are spoiled

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      1. That’s a good way of testing if the hay is ok. If they don’t eat it EVER, even without other options, it’s probably got something wrong with it. If they go on a hunger strike, then give in, they’re probably spoiled (like my two). It’s tricky when there’s grass in the equation, though. Glad the last pile disappeared!

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