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Discussion on Moldy Hay

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Miriam Braun
New Member
Username: huf5

Post Number: 3
Registered: 12-2008
Posted on Tuesday, Dec 9, 2008 - 1:27 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr.O, I have a question. I have noticed some of my bales are a little moldy (not white dusty, but mildly blackish, and somewhat dusty with the typical smell) now occasionally I have started to feed hay (I feed 1 to 1.5 bales twice a day for 2 horses, and I take each flake rip it into little heaps and spread it all over my turn out area) and then in the midst or at the end there is one flake that appears to be mildly contaminated. It is not because it is dusty, or discolored, or any white color, but only the texture is mildly different and when I bury my nose in it I can detect a mild bitter smell and the lack of the green hay-grass smell....my throat has been burning and I read that inhaling spores for humans can leave permanent damage in the lungs - but how else would I know to detect these mildly contaminated flakes/bales? And what about if I only find one or two flakes is the whole bale affected? I mean since the hay is stored all next to each other anyway, wouldn't one bale contaminate all bales touching next to it, especially once it has been moved?
Thank you (this question relates to my other question, about my horses mild Diarrhea.
Thank you very much.
Mim
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 821
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Dec 9, 2008 - 7:51 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

UGH -- Miriam. Dr. O can answer this but I have been through this and can confirm that inhaling this stuff can indeed cause serious human health consequences.

It is not worth picking through the flakes, sniffing on all sides of them, though I have done so, and I understand if there is no other hay available.

I have been through this and if I would find myself faced with this again I would probably dispose of all of the hay and feed cubes or another resource.

The health risks for humans and equines are not worth the effort of sifting through the hay.
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Miriam Braun
New Member
Username: huf5

Post Number: 4
Registered: 12-2008
Posted on Tuesday, Dec 9, 2008 - 8:33 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Vicky,
thank you for the input, I usually wouldn't sift through if I knew the bale was even slightly moldy then I would throw the whole bale on my compost, but my trouble is I have started to feed an entire bale (about 40+lbs) and then near the end I "think" it looks different, and I sniff it to figure out if it is moldy - by now I have scattered that whole bale over 2 acres into little heaps (1 flake = 4-6 heaps) and then I kick myself for not noticing earlier.....but no dust, not obvious smell, or white or black color indicators, only that the one flake sticks more together and seems 'baked' which wasn't obvious from the outside, also I feed in the dark (no choice) but I think I will have to check all my bales, open them up the feeding before to make certain :-)
Thank you
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KatR
Member
Username: kathrynr

Post Number: 30
Registered: 11-2008
Posted on Wednesday, Dec 10, 2008 - 7:29 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

It's funny you post this question Miriam I too am having the same difficulty with a load of orchard grass hay and was going to ask this here as well today.If you don't mind me adding to your question here is the sour/bitter smell always an indication of mold even if there isn't dust or other visible signs? I am guessing the answer is yes?
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 21931
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, Dec 10, 2008 - 3:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

If you can see the mold spores I recommend to not inhale it. As to whether the mold can be focal or throughout the whole batch, it can be focal depending on the source of the moisture. Whether hay becomes moldy has nothing to do with exposure to the mold because it is ubiquitous. Whether it grows depends on the moisture content. If the hay was all baled too wet then it will all mold. If just some areas in the field remained too wet or just some areas of storage are too wet those bales will mold. Of course higher moisture bales can make the adjacent bales moister.

The problem with your last question KatR is that I am uncertain what you are describing as bitter/sour and some weeds have a bitter smell. But if what you are identifying as mold is truly a moldy smell yes, I think it can be smelled before it can be seen.
DrO
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Miriam Braun
New Member
Username: huf5

Post Number: 5
Registered: 12-2008
Posted on Wednesday, Dec 10, 2008 - 5:30 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you Dr.O.
I think the smell I am trying to describe is sometimes an incredibly mild 'moldy' smell and other times just bitter. I have been opening all my bales now before heading out into the field, and have noticed with one bale which I thought might be moldy in fact wasn't, so I can assume that that bitter smell is due to a plant vs mold.
5 other individuals who raise horses 24/7 outdoors with access to hay 24/7 say all the same, if the horses have enough hay to choose from they won't touch what isn't good; of course always remove any hay that is obviously moldy!!
Thank you Dr.O for the help.
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KatR
Member
Username: kathrynr

Post Number: 31
Registered: 11-2008
Posted on Thursday, Dec 11, 2008 - 10:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks DrO
I did break open more bales and the visible signs of mold are present inside many of them so my sour smell is probably be due to this in the ones I questioned about. Hopefully my supplier will make good on them.
Thanks again
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Miriam Braun
Member
Username: huf5

Post Number: 6
Registered: 12-2008
Posted on Thursday, Dec 11, 2008 - 12:22 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

FYI - the bale I had scattered 2 days ago (when I noticed with the second last flake that something was different) the horses haven't touched. They nudged it, but didn't eat it. So those piles I have tossed out :-)
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Jo Ann Widner
Member
Username: jowidner

Post Number: 316
Registered: 5-2003
Posted on Thursday, Dec 11, 2008 - 11:31 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Uh oh. Now I've got some questions if you don't mind my asking them on your thread Miriam.

I was just sniffing a questionable bale earlier tonight and I had the thought: "This probably isn't a good thing to do." Vicki, what kind of "serious health consequences" might I have done to myself?

And if I shouldn't sniff for mold, does that mean I must rely solely on weight, texture and visual appearance to detect moldy bales?
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 21939
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Dec 12, 2008 - 8:21 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I use smell if I am uncertain but I start easy, there is no need to bury my nose in the hay to start with. Take it easy until you determine whether the smell is good or bad. Done carefully I don't think this represents a big risk to normal individuals, after all you are exposed to these same organisms in any barn where hay is stored or fed. I would be concerned about those who are immune compromised or have allergies to dust.
DrO
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Jo Ann Widner
Member
Username: jowidner

Post Number: 317
Registered: 5-2003
Posted on Friday, Dec 12, 2008 - 2:17 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Since I am on immunosuppressive therapy for RA I have as of this moment become a reformed hay sniffer!
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