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Discussion on Wet Hay..how long before mold at what temp?

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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 3417
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Saturday, Dec 27, 2008 - 7:40 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr.O. I have been feeding the horses big bales, I didn't think I had any worries as far as rain in the upper midwest in the dead of winter, but alas mother nature fooled me again.

We've had buckets of rain and the temps have been between 50-40 degrees for the last couple days/nights. We return to below freezing tonight again. At those temps for a few days and wet hay should I be concerned? The bale will be gone by Mon. probably if I let them eat it. I'm thinking it probably will be ok but wanted to check.

Thanks
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 22026
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Dec 28, 2008 - 9:29 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

DianeE there are too many variables for me to really know. Just keep a careful eye on it.
DrO
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 3444
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Dec 31, 2008 - 7:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Dr.O. I let them have the rest of the big bale with no ill effects. Out of curiosity is there a certain temp that mold can not form?
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 22039
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Dec 31, 2008 - 2:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I certainly would count out freezing and boiling but otherwise I am uncertain.
DrO
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elk
Member
Username: ekaufman

Post Number: 766
Registered: 3-2007
Posted on Wednesday, Dec 31, 2008 - 8:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Diane,

Don't forget that damp or wet hay gives off a ton of heat as it starts to ferment (which is why damp bales burn down barns in the winter). So if the hay gets wet in the middle, the outside temp. isn't going to prevent mold formation.

- Elizabeth
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 3449
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Thursday, Jan 1, 2009 - 6:07 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Elizabeth, so you think if a big bale gets wet in the middle when the temps are around freezing it could still produce mold?...Interesting.I had to really think about this!

I know when hay is put up damp it produces it's own heat and molds (have seen many burnt down barns from this). Once cured though and put out in low temps would the same fermentation occur? Does it still have the "energy" to produce mold at low temps? HMMMM I may have to research this to satisfy my curiosity.
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Lori
Member
Username: maggienm

Post Number: 894
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Thursday, Jan 1, 2009 - 9:03 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thinking about this. I see bales out in a field that aren't covered, occasionally sitting there for several years. They get wet, but don't burn.
I have bought two year old hay to use as munch material, after peeling off the outside ring of damaged hay the inside was clean and fresh.
Not fresh like new hay but still good. It goes without saying that the nutritional content was greatly reduced. I have also experienced 'new' hay that was sooo moldy all the way through I wouldn't use any of it.
It would appear that if the hay is put up clean and dry it will/can stay that way inside.
This is emperical observation only, nothing scientific here.

But your original question, once the bale is out in the field and gets wet how quickly and at what temp will it mold.
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Lori
Member
Username: maggienm

Post Number: 895
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Thursday, Jan 1, 2009 - 9:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

But your original question, once the bale is out in the field and gets wet how quickly and at what temp will it mold.

I can tell you my personal experience. I feed round bales year round. The bales vary in size as I usually have to buy from more than one supplier.
It can take from two weeks to four weeks for my two standard size mares to munch through. Some bales just seem to taste better and perhaps they aren't packed as tightly so there isn't as much hay as it appears.
During the warmer months the bales do get rained on, I have never noticed that they start to mold.
I haven't really thought about it until you mentioned it. Perhaps the horses eat the rained on hay before it has a chance to mold?
In my area free feeding round bales to horses is the norm rather than the exception.
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 3450
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Thursday, Jan 1, 2009 - 4:07 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

It is the norm around here also. The cows hay stays out after baling and as you stated it doesn't mold except the outside inch about. I think that mold needs oxygen to form tho??? So if a bale is tight it should be ok I would think. SOOOO if we set out a big bale and the outside gets wet the horses probably eat it fast enough to prohibit mold and the middle stays dry because it's tight and therefore stays mold free??? Just my theory for now anyway.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 22047
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Jan 2, 2009 - 9:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

We have a lot of local round baled hay and to answer your question Lori: quickly and at most temperatures. I have never seen a bale that has been exposed to the weather for hardly any time at all that was suitable for horses. I have seen two year old weathered round bale hay that had so little nutrition and so much mold as to cause chronic weight loss and liver disease in cattle.
DrO
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Erika L
Member
Username: erika

Post Number: 1538
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, Jan 2, 2009 - 9:39 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Diane, I also think that if you keep the round bale "standing up", some of the rain is transferred down the grass stalks and rolls off, leaving the inner layers dry. If it is lying on it's side, the rain is more likely to soak to the middle.

Though I loved the convenience of round bales, I ended up moving the feeding location under an awning to keep it dry and out of the mud. But then I had a big mess right by the barn from the poop and stuff.

After a while the cleanup outweighed the feeding convenience and I am back to doling it out.
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Lori
Member
Username: maggienm

Post Number: 898
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Friday, Jan 2, 2009 - 10:22 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Of course, Dr.O I have seen those bales also, I have burned a few rather than feed them.

I have also seen two year old bales that were completely dust and mold free.
I completely agree that the nutritional content would be very poor, although I have never actually had them analyzed.
A bale like this that is clean but low on nutrition makes excellent munching material.
high quality flakes fed morning and night with access to the bale keeps horses from getting too overweight and alleviates boredom.
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 3474
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Saturday, Jan 3, 2009 - 7:33 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

The big bales I use for the horses are stored inside, and last about 10 days. I don't think I would feed them in the summer, with our humidity and rain I'm sure mold would form quickly...If I leave a small bale out in the summer it has mold on it with in a day on the bottom.
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