By Lynda M. Vanden Elzen
As horse owners, we always want to find the highest quality hay available for our horses. Opinions vary regarding which type of hay is ideal, and a hay that is ideal for one horse may be detrimental to another. One consistent requirement, however, is that hay is free of detectable mould and dust. What horse owners may not be aware of is how narrow the window is for farmers to bale hay successfully, not only at the optimal plant maturity level, but also at safe moisture levels, while contending with unpredictable weather at the same time. Losses due to rain and insufficient drying time can cost a farmer a lot of money, and cause heating, loss of nutritional value, and even spontaneous combustion.
Ideally, farmers tend to want to bale when the plants have dried to moisture levels from 13-17%, so that the hay is dry enough to avoid heating and significant loss of nutritional value and bale weight, but not so dry that it shatters. Ideally, this hay will then cure to contain 10-12% moisture or less (more…)