August 25, 2015
Hay for My Horses
Hay is an important part of every horse's diet, and my Friesians, ponies and donkeys depend on me to provide them with the best quality hay possible.
Hay is a harvested plant that’s dried and cured after being cut in the field at various times of its growth cycle. In most cases, hay is cut during the late bud or early bloom stage to maximize its nutritional value. My hay comes from Adam's Hay, right here in Bedford, New York. When examining a supply, my stable manager, Betsy Perreten, looks at many factors including freshness, texture, smell and coloration.
A load of hay was delivered to my farm yesterday. Take a look at my photos...
1 Ron and Jolene from Adam's Hay in Bedford, New York came by the farm with a big delivery of hay. Before unloading, it was important to pull several bales first, so Betsy, could take a look.
2 Betsy checked the hay for freshness, texture, and smell. She wanted to be sure it didn't contain significant amounts of weeds, or dirt, that there were no signs of insects, and that it didn't show any moisture that could potentially lead to mold.
3 Betsy reached into the bale for a sample of hay. It's the inside hay that counts. The best place to assess the color is in the heart of a bale, not the outside. It should be pale green to pale gold in color. It should also be soft, fine-stemmed and as leafy as possible. Betsy's hat is actually a bike helmet fitted with a rim specifically made for riding in the sun. It's by DaBrim. http://dabrim.com
4 The true test comes from the horse. Betsy brought my beautiful Friesian, Rinze, over to taste test the hay - he approved.
5 The hay elevator was lowered from the loft of my stable. I keep all my hay in the loft where it is dry, and protected from any inclement weather.
6 A hay elevator is specifically designed to haul bales of hay or straw up to a hayloft.
7 They work as conveyor belts, and are typically open skeletal frames with chains of dull spikes that hold the bales as they move.
8 The hay elevator went directly from the truck to the hayloft. It is a very convenient piece of equipment.
9 Each bale was placed onto the elevator, which carried it straight into the hayloft where our crew was waiting to unload it and stack it in neat piles - it is a fast moving process.
10 Hay is essentially grass, legumes or other herbaceous plants that have been cut, dried, and stored for animal fodder, particularly for grazers, such as my horses, ponies and donkeys.
11 Hay contains mixtures of commonly used plants. These bales contain timothy, orchard and clover grass hays. The mixes depend on the region and on the availability. It's been a tough season for hay in this area because the growing season started so late.
12 A total of 117 bales of hay were transferred from the truck to my barn.
13 I prefer to give my horses first-cut hay - the first-cut of the year for the field where it's grown. It is generally the most nutritious when it is cut and cured properly.
14 Once the bales got to the hayloft, they were removed from the elevator and stacked. Pete and Eng wore masks to prevent them from inhaling any hay dust.
15 It is very important to be sure hay bales are stored in a dry, well-ventilated area, so they remain intact and free of moisture which could cause mold.
16 Once all the bales were lifted into the hayloft, the elevator was pulled back up for storage. It is a very heavy piece of machinery, so extra hands were called in to help.
17 The elevator was stored neatly on the side of the hayloft, ready for the next delivery.
18 All the hay was neatly stacked.
19 This should be enough for the next few weeks.
20 Fernando swept all the extra hay up from the floor, so the loft was clean and tidy.
21 Betsy went over the details with Ron from Adam's Hay.
22 Meanwhile, Ramon was in his stall waiting patiently for more hay.
23 Rutger also watched with great interest.
24 Rinze was already busy eating his hay supply. All the horses, ponies and donkeys were happy with this delivery, and that's what mattered most.