Feed and Hay Storage
Keeping your horses' feed and hay fresh is crucial to their health, and proper storage ensures optimal freshness.
August 15, 2010
Heat and humidity plague many regions of North America during the summer months. The higher temperature and moisture levels common this time of year can make feed freshness a challenge, requiring extra attention to how feed is stored.
If you store hay inside, it is important to keep it dry. Make sure there are no leaks in the building or condensation that can accumulate inside the roof and drip on the feed. Also, keep hay off of the floor. A wooden pallet is a good solution, and you can often find these for free.
If you plan on storing the hay outside, you should stack it on wooden pallets or ventilated platforms to keep moisture from the ground off of it. Bales also need to be protected from the sun and rain. Tarps work well for this.
No matter how carefully you store your feed and hay, always be sure to check for mold. Never feed any grain, pellets or hay that looks or smells moldy.
Many horse owners purchase feed by the bag and transfer the contents into a container kept in a feed room or designated area of the barn or shed. The container that feed is kept in, as well as the location of the container, play an important role in how fresh the feed stays.
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Sealable containers with lids, such as trash cans, are a great way to keep rodents and bugs away from the feed. A waterproof container will ensure that the feed stays dry if there is unexpected water leakage into the area.
The location that the feed bin or container is kept is also important. If you have a designated feed room or area in your facility, check to see that it is not exposed to unnecessary moisture, such as a leak in the roof or sweating pipes overhead. Elevating the bin off the floor will help keep feed dry should there be minor flooding. Also, check to see if your feed bin is sitting in the hottest part of your barn or shed. For metal-sided buildings, this could be the south or west wall, which receive the strongest of the sun’s rays and tend to hold heat longer. Relocating the bin to a cooler or dryer area will go a long way in keeping your feed fresh.
Whenever possible, try to practice inventory management through FIFO, an acronym that stands for First In First Out. FIFO is a method to manage the freshness of perishable goods such as produce, baked goods or dairy products. The premise can also be applied to feed, where feed already in the bin is fed prior to the feed that was just purchased. Also, between feed rotations, periodically wash and thoroughly dry the container to help get rid of buildup at the bottom. Using this method can ensure that the feed you are scooping has not aged beyond its ideal shelf life.
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Have equine nutrition questions? Want answers? Check out AQHA Corporate Partner Nutrena’s horse feed blog, The Feed Room. At The Feed Room, you’ll find tips on how to feed your horse in hot weather, how to properly read horse feed directions, how to calculate horse feed costs and much more.