The Green Horse section provides practical information on managing environmentally sustainable horse properties, readers stories and tips, as well as advice and articles from equestrian experts in their fields.
October November 2014
Vol 36 No 3
In this issue of The Green Horse you will find the following articles:
Grass Species - Types of Grasses by Mariette van den Berg
Weedwatch - Wireweed
by Nicola Field
Plug -and-play Donkeys
by Wendy Elks
Preparing for Fire on Horse Properties by David Nash
Handy Hints for Herbs
vvvvvv HOW DO READERS STORE THEIR HAY?
We purchased a small load of hay last year and have found it saved us a lot of money and meant that when hay was hard to get then we still had some in the shed. This year we want to buy a large truck load but are worried as one of our friends did this and then found that a lot of bales were mouldy, and many of the bottom ones ended up looking like chaff after the rats had been at them. It meant they had to throw away a lot and we don’t want to do that. Can you ask Hoofbeats readers what they do with their hay so there is not so much wastage?
Zoe and Mike Atherton, Victoria
While we are waiting for readers to tell you their hay storage secrets, here’s a few basics. Hoofbeats Team
The bulk storing of hay is an option that those who have the space usually choose, as it is more economical to purchase bulk hay than it is to buy it by the bale or the roll during the winter months. There is also an option to check the quality of the hay before purchase and often to get a consistent quality over the period, whereas purchasing weekly can mean that the quality and nutritional value of the hay can vary if the stockfeeder purchases their hay from a variety of sources.
When stored, the hay should be out of the elements - including direct sunlight - be protected from wind and rain, in an area that has good air circulation and ventilation. A three-walled shed, with the open side facing away from the weather, is the optimum storage facility. Any shed, however, is a far better option than a tarp, which can cause hay to sweat and go mouldy in the warmer weather. The other problem, whether under a tarp or stored in a shed, is combustion. Damp hay heats and can cause combustion, and there have been instances of complete stacks being destroyed from self-ignited fire.
Depending on the flooring available, it may also pay to have the hay lifted off the ground and stacked on pallets, which prevents floor dampness destroying the bottom bales and also gives the stack added ventilation. Storing in this manner on pallets also creates an area under the stack where vermin control can be placed without being easily accessible to children, dogs, or other animals that may have access to the area. Traps, secure bait boxes or poisons can be used to keep the rats and mice under control. This has an ongoing effect of discouraging snakes, as they are not using it as their personal larder if there are no rats and mice available.
When the new season’s hay becomes available is an ideal time to have a spring clean of the hay shed. Move the old hay forward, remove the loose hay from the floor, take out the pallets, sweep and disinfect the whole area. Remove cobwebs and spray for spiders and ants. Check and deal with any rat or mice nests, and then store the new hay at the back of the shed, so the old hay is at the front and is that which is used first.
Hay is an important part of the horse’s diet, particularly those that do not have much pasture access. Ensuring the hay is a good quality and nutritionally suited to the horse, that the horse actually likes the hay and the storage is secure from the weather and vermin, can result in a significant saving over the year in the horse budget.