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Moldy hay?

Discussion in 'Feeding Time - Sheep' started by NachoFarm, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. Sep 7, 2012
    NachoFarm

    NachoFarm Chillin' with the herd

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    So we had our neighbour cut our hay for us and he round baled it. We just put one in the barn and cut it open and to me it seemed really dusty, and then I noticed white spots...I'm concerned it's moldy but how do I know for sure? I wasn't aware that dust could actually be mold and we've been feeding it to our sheep and goats for at least a week now. The neighbour feeds cows so I'm not sure if his standards are just different when it comes to mold. Should I just peel off more and see what it looks like further in? It doesn't seem to smell, however I haven't shoved my nose right in it. If it is slightly most will this hurt my animals, what a waste if I have to ditch these two bales.
  2. Sep 8, 2012
    kstaven

    kstaven Purple Cow/Moderator Moderator

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    White spots and white dust means he baled it a little wet and you have some mold.
  3. Sep 8, 2012
    NachoFarm

    NachoFarm Chillin' with the herd

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    Ok, but what does that mean as far as its safe use for my sheep and goats? Should I just peel some off and use the rest, or are both bales garbage?
  4. Sep 8, 2012
    bonbean01

    bonbean01 True BYH Addict

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    From what I've read, moldy hay can cause sheep to not do well...cause respiratory problems, and abortions in ewes. Sorry your hay is moldy :(
  5. Sep 8, 2012
    NachoFarm

    NachoFarm Chillin' with the herd

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    Ok, but how do I know if the whole bale is garbage or if it's just the top layer? Can I just peel it off and use what's underneath?
  6. Sep 8, 2012
    bonbean01

    bonbean01 True BYH Addict

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    Truly I don't know but am interested in this also...hope someone with good information responds.
  7. Sep 8, 2012
    ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Alpaca Master

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    Until you tear the bale apart, you don't know. Just make sure to smell it and not feed the moldy parts. If there is a lot of mold, then I wouldn't use it. It is my understanding that cows can eat moldy hay with no ill effects but I don't know if this is totally true since I don't own cows.
  8. Sep 8, 2012
    aggieterpkatie

    aggieterpkatie The Shepherd

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    Ruminants can handle some mold, since they digest completely differently than horses and other monogastrics. That doesn't mean I'd purposely feed really moldy stuff, but my sheep have occasionally had slightly musty hay before. I'd peel off the moldy stuff, and look at the layer underneath. Sometimes bales get a little wet on the outside and the inside is still fine. You'll just have to check. I wouldn't give them the white moldy parts though. If they're pregnant, I'd be even more careful to make sure it's mold free.
  9. Sep 8, 2012
    Karma

    Karma Chillin' with the herd

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    Besides for as mentioned above where the mold growth is only on the ouside layer (usually from storing it on cement floors or wet ground, usually if it is moldy on the outside it is worse inside. When we buy round bales, I take a bat and give the bale a good whack. If a smoke like cloud comes from the bale it is a good indication it is way too moldy to feed - the smoke like cloud is key, dust will look like dust not smoke, with small bales you can drop them from 4' or higher and it does the same thing. I also work my arm into the middle of round bales to check for heat and moisture, and try to get a good handfull of the middle hay to inspect more closely.

    We honestly don't buy many round bales anymore as there is just too much waste if a bale is bad and farmers here are willing to let us split open square bales to check the quality inside, additionally we just can't find really good quality hay in round bales. We buy hay from horse people or the older family farms that have good reputations for quality hay - I find they are just more careful about mold and moisture content of their hay than the large dairy farms.

    The main concerns when they eat moldy hay are B vitamin deficency and respiratory issues from them inhaling the spores. I have heard Listeriosis and goat polio can be issues, however I think you would be needing to feed some pretty rancid wet hay for that to occur as it is more typical with silage than hay. Keep in mind all hay has mold spores in it - it is just how it works, your storage methods should reduce any issues and prohibit growth from occuring to the point where your animals will get sick from eating it. If you are buying quality hay and it keeps coming up moldy, it may be your storage methods and NOT the hay causing the issues.
  10. Sep 8, 2012
    NachoFarm

    NachoFarm Chillin' with the herd

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    Well I'm sure the neighbors thought that someone was going to get a beating as I strolled over to the barn with a baseball bat in my hand. ;). Anyways, I gave it a few good girl whacks and didn't notice any smoke. There is definitely smoke when I pull from the top layer but I think the innards might be alright. I reached inside and tried to pull out a bit and it isn't dusty or white. Fingers crossed I guess.

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