Preserving the Quality of Horse Hay, Grain and Feedstuffs

Hay bales stored to preserve quality.
Hay bales stored to preserve quality.

Unless you have adequate pasture to provide the necessary feed for your horse year-round, you are investing a great deal of money, time and effort in purchasing, storing, and feeding your horse the best feed you can find.

Preventing damage and loss of nutritional value are very important when it comes to storing feed for your horse. Many of the same rules that apply to the storing and feeding of hay are also important in storing and feeding grain concentrates, commercial feeds, supplements and other products.

Here are 15 rules to follow to preserve the quality of your hay, grain, feed stuffs, supplements, medications and other supplies for your horse:

  1. Be sure to keep all hay, feed stuffs and other supplies dry by making sure there are no roof leaks in any storage areas or any water drainage problems.
  2. Organize your storage by using indoor storage areas in sheds and barns wherever possible for hay, grains, complete feeds, supplements and other feed stuffs for your horse.
  3. Keep hay off the floor or ground by placing it on wooden pallets which you can often get from local businesses at no cost to you.
  4. Stack hay for good air flow and check hay often for heat build-up by inserting a thermometer through a pipe or inserting a metal rod into the center of bales, waiting 15 minutes and feeling the rod to see if heat is building up.
  5. Use older hay first by stacking new hay behind it.
  6. Keep hay in compacted bales as much as possible to decrease breakdown in quality because of exposure to air and sunlight
  7. If storing hay outside, protect it from sun and rain with tarps or covers and stack in a way for good water runoff.
  8. Check each bale as you open it to make sure it isn't moldy and doesn't contain foreign objects or other debris.
  9. Rodent proof your storage area and keep an eye out for rats and mice that might contaminate your hay. Having a barn cat can be of great help in keeping the rodent population under control.
  10. If you purchase grain or other feed stuffs in sacks, either store the sacks in metal bins or galvanized garbage cans with tight lids or empty the contents into metal bins or garbage cans to preserve quality and keep rodents and insects from damaging them.
  11. Always store all hay, grain, supplements and medications in a horse-proof area where horses cannot get to them. This will prevent accidental engorgement which can cause gastric dilatation and founder or the ingestion of supplements or medications that are a danger to the horse. If your horse gets into your grain supply or stored supplements and medications, call your veterinarian immediately.
  12. Read and follow the directions for storage on all complete feeds, supplements and medications. If necessary, keep refrigerated or store in a cool dark place according to directions.
  13. Always discard any damaged or outdated feed stuff, supplement, or medication.
  14. Keep special feeds, supplements and medications for each horse separately, and give only to the horse for which they are meant to be used.
  15. Maintain good housekeeping procedures throughout your storage, stable, tack, and barn areas to minimize pests, debris, and any contaminants that might reduce the quality of hay and other feed stuffs.

About the Author

EquiMed Staff

EquiMed staff writers team up to provide articles that require periodic updates based on evolving methods of equine healthcare. Compendia articles, core healthcare topics and more are written and updated as a group effort. Our review process includes an important veterinarian review, helping to assure the content is consistent with the latest understanding from a medical professional.