At J.D. Russell Hay and Straw, our primary market for hay is racetracks. These tracks house horses that are essentially athletes that demand the best in their diet. The highest quality horse hay is rich green in color, free of mold and dust, and was baled at the ideal maturity and moisture level.
Characteristics of Horse Hay
Trainers want, first and foremost, green hay. Bright green hay is generally a sign of good horse hay that was baled in a timely fashion and with little rain or dew damage. Hay that has been rained on or subject to heavy dews starts to bleach and loses color rapidly.
Horse hay needs to be mold and dust free. Clean air in the barns is essential for horses to perform their best during training and on the track. Hay that is baled with too much moisture will heat up, become moldy and/or dusty, and has a foul smell. However, if hay is baled too dry, it can get very brittle and dusty.
Hay at the peak of maturity is ideal hay for horses. As hay becomes overly mature, it loses nutritional value. Overripe hay also can become stemmy, coarse, and woody.
Perhaps the biggest factor in making horse hay is making hay at the correct moisture level. Our best hay is dried the quickest so as to not sacrifice a loss in color. However, if the hay is too dry when baled, it can become dusty. Dry hay also loses an excessive amount of leaves which contain most of the nutrients. Hay that was baled too wet can mold and can actually combust spontaneously in the barn.
How Are We Able To Bale At The Right Moisture Level?
Baling hay is quite the balancing act. Ideally, the hay should be dried to the correct moisture level, it should get to the correct level as quickly as possible, and we cannot be too rough on the hay to get it there. We have state of the art equipment designed to dry hay as quickly as possible while handling it as gently as possible. Hay that has been handled too aggressively loses its leaves and much of its nutritional value. We use many self-propelled machines to cut down on tire traffic on the hay from cutting to picking up the bales. We also have a custom-built fluffer / tedder that generally speeds up the drying process by a whole day. Our fleet of equipment helps us bale the hay quickly as soon as it is fit. Check out our equipment at Our Hay and Straw.
When the Weather Doesn’t Cooperate
Sometimes, Mother Nature changes her plans and the threat of rain increases. Some farmers will bale hay too wet and try to use preservatives or drying agents to keep it from spoiling later on. Not us! If we are forced to bale hay with too much moisture because of incoming rain, we use a process that we developed to naturally remove excess moisture from the bales.
Of course, even the best laid plans do not always work because of the unpredictability of the weather. As with any farmer, there are times that we cut hay and it rains before we can bale it, or the morning dew or daily humidity is excessive and the hay loses too much color. In these cases, the lower quality hay becomes cattle hay and is sold to local farmers for feed.
Horse hay is hay of the highest quality and is what our customers want and what we strive for with every cutting. Our unique focus on making hay allows us to invest in the equipment and processes to help us get the job done in the best way possible.