While your hay may be delivered in perfect condition, how you take care of your hay loft may determine the condition it’s in when it reaches your horses’ mouths.
Hay lofts need to be clean. Old hay, insects, heat and moisture, will be very detrimental to the new hay stored in the loft.
It’s a great time of year to inspect your loft. Does it smell like somebody’s musty attic? Horses like, and therefore eat, clean, fresh-smelling hay. Hay soaks up odors like a sponge, and a smelly bale of hay is not going to appeal to any horse.
We like fresh smelling hay, too. When we go to buy hay for our horses, what’s the first thing we notice after checking how it looks? The smell. So why put nice new hay in a dirty, smelly loft?
Take the time now to give your hay loft a thorough cleaning. Sweep out the old hay and check carefully for any insect nests or mold and remove those too.
Also be sure to check the integrity of the floor in your hay loft. Is it strong enough to support the amount of hay in it?
It’s also important to examine your hay equipment. Are the chains of your hay elevator adjusted to the proper tension? Is the electrical cord in good condition, or is it showing signs of wear? Have rodents chewed on it?
Hay elevators need to be lubricated, but be sure to use vegetable oil so you don’t contaminate the hay. Using products that can be used to grease most farm machinery doesn’t work on a hay elevator. Yes, they lubricate the elevator, but that same petroleum based product will rub off the equipment onto your hay, and into your horse’s stomach. So think before you grease!
One last thing. Look up. The roof. Do you see any holes? Many cases of mold in hay are caused by unnoticed holes in hay loft roofs! Give your hay loft a cleaning and inspection now, and the hay you store in it will remain fresh and sweet.