Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crumby Hay

Hay prices continue to rise in our part of the country. We have had a significant drought for several years. Some farmers didn't get a second cutting and even their first cutting wasn't as productive as they had hoped. The hay produced in this area of the country is being purchased by ranchers in other hard hit areas, which is driving up prices for local folks. For perspective, last year at this time I  'topped off' my hay supply (so it would last until the 2nd cutting this year) at a cost of $10 per 55-65 pound bale. Recently I've heard that my friends have paid as much as $18.95 per bale!
Holy hay bale!
I saw a lot of hay in the field in the northwest this summer. Many times as we drove from one point to another, we could see farmers baling hay as we passed. I noticed that most of the bales were large round bales, or large rectangular bales measuring 3 or 4 feet square by 8 feet long. 

I guess one can't blame the farmers. It is much more economical to create large bales, requiring less time and less fuel to bale each acre of grass, hay or alfalfa, and also needing less man power (but more machine power) to handle the finished product. But most "backyard farmers" don't have the machine power to handle bales of hay that can weigh 1000 pounds or more. In response to their needs, companies that reprocess large hay bales have sprung up. They open the large bales and rebale them it into what we call "small squares" - the traditional hay bale size and shape. 

Some of the hay that I have been feeding the guest horses evidently has been reprocessed. It is very crumby!

Shyloh stood downwind when I tossed a flake of hay in the paddock,
and now she's wearing her dinner.
Since then I put it in a wheel barrow and distribute piles instead of tossing them.

This shows a flake of traditionally baled hay on the top of the photo.
The stems of grass are 10 - 14" in length.
The long stems hold the flakes of hay together
The flake of the crumby hay is shown on the bottom of the photo.
The 'stems' of grass are 2 - 4" in length,

and the flake falls apart in your hands.

But, the taste testers don't seem to care....
one way or another!

I don't particularly care for the rebaled hay. Besides the mess in trying to handle it, it serves no purpose putting the hay in a NibbleNet slow feeder - it sifts out onto the ground. It blows around easily in our wind. I wonder if the horses get has much chewing and reflecting time. I also don't like their increased exposure to the sand and dirt. At least with longer stalks of hay, the horses can easily 'lip up' a few stalks, without getting dirt, something like playing pick-up sticks. The reformatted hay seems to have much more chaff, and seed heads, which they love, but how much sand are they getting when they try to hoover up the little bits?

What are your thoughts? 
Have you had crumby hay?


  1. The hay situation is terrible all over! The horses look very good tho!

  2. We have good hay here, and lots of it. I buy the 4X5X8ft square bales, approx. 1500 pounds, for $80 from my neighbour. They last about 10 days for my 5 horses, so it costs me $8 a day to feed 5 horses. I really feel for people who are paying such high prices for hay- I would have to sell my horses if prices got that high.
    I used to buy round bales, and it can be done without a tractor to handle them. The farmer would load the bale in my pickup,and I'd roll the bale off in the horse pasture and drop a round bale feeder over it. It worked great. Sometimes if I had a place to stockpile round bales, I'd put them in the pasture on a slight incline, and fence them off with panels, and when I needed one we'd roll it out of the enclosure and put the bale feeder around it. Where there's a will there's a way!

  3. I'm glad we are stocked up, and I'm hoping for a good hay year in 2013.

  4. The hay situation is bad. . .although I have heard that Michigan did not have as bad of a year as elsewhere, but they are selling the hay out to other states. Right now, we can get a bale of hay for about $9, last year is was $3!

    I need to find some nice hay for the winter. . .it's always good to have a little extra. I have not seen the crumbly hay, but I have seen bad cuttings. Have you tried Sand Clear for them? I had to put Shy on it since her new barn is sandy.

  5. I know hay is in great demand in the west and at high prices! During our move we were considering hauling a load of square bales from TN to CO to sell just so we didn't have to drive back empty to MT. Square bales in TN are selling for $4-5 a bale. We decided that it was just another thing to stress about, but it would be nice if someone decided to go do that. They could make some money and still get y'all some bales at a more reasonable price! Hope you can find some good hay that doesn't sap your budget.

  6. I wouldn't like the waste of having that type of hay for sure. I can see where the horses might like the ease of chewing it perhaps.
    Our hay went from $4.50 a bale last year to $6.50 this year. Though I did call to nail down a price a few months ahead of time. A friend is getting the same hay for $9.00 this week.

  7. The slow feeder I made does not make the flaky, small stemmed hay fall through. I have fed alfalfa through it and it didn't end up on the ground.

  8. Well I live in an urban area of Australia, so I clearly know nothing at all about this. But even I can see what a difference there is in the quality. I have to say, it's fascinating to read this though. I've loved visiting all 3 of your blogs today. :)


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