Our friends at the University of Minnesota Extension have created a great guide to questions you should be asking when buying hay. Equine expert Krishona Martinson, PhD, offers some helpful suggestions below:
Q: What questions should I ask when buying horse hay?
A: Here are some questions horse owners should ask when purchasing hay:
- Have you sold to horse owners before or do you specialize in horse hay?
- What is the average weight of the bales? This is very important if buying hay by the bale.
- How mature is the hay? Maturity is the main driver of forage quality.
- What species are present in the hay? Legumes and grasses have different nutrient values.
- Where was the hay harvested? Rule out ditch hay.
- Was the hay rained on? Rained on hay is a good choice for horses with metabolic problems; it tends to be lower in nonstructural carbohydrates.
- Was the hay stored inside or under cover after baling? Hay stored inside or under cover has less storage loss.
- Was the hay field fertilized and/or sprayed for weeds? Show good management and likely a better quality product.
- What are the payment options?
- Is delivery available and if so, what is the cost?
- What is the price? Is there a price break for volume or cash?
- Is assistance available with onsite handling and stacking of hay, and if so, at what cost?
- How much hay do you have/bale each year? Helps ensure a consistent supply of hay.
This article is reprinted with permission from Krishona Martinson, University of Minnesota. This and other horse nutrition articles can be found at http://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/horse/nutrition/.