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Hay Caramelizing?? Something went wrong....

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#1 plout99


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Posted 16 August 2011 - 10:18 PM

So I baled about a 100 small squares of first cut alfalfa, baled it at about 18% average put the bales in the loft all nice and green went back last week to add some seconed cut small squares and the first cut bales are all tan/brown not just the areas exposed to light but all the bales even inside. Is this caramelizing? If so is the hay still ok for feed? What kind of affect does this have on the nutrition level etc? If not caramelizing then what is it??

#2 mulberrygrovefamilyfarm


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Posted 17 August 2011 - 06:49 AM

I've never had small squares caramelize at 18%, which is what has you puzzled I'm sure. I've only seen small squares caramelize at 20% and above (with my moisture meter). I assume your hay smells like tea? At auction there will still be buyers for hay that has caramelized, but the horse people usually won't buy it. With this years hay shortage I wouldn't worry about being not able to sell it.

#3 hayray


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Posted 17 August 2011 - 07:15 AM

I would guess your testing meter was off your sample incorrect. Also, what environment are they stored in. Usually has to be way over 20% to carmalize.

#4 sedurbin


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Posted 17 August 2011 - 08:26 AM

Where are you located? It sounds like it could be humidity bleaching. It is hard to keep hay green in the midwest and other areas that have higher humidity.

How does the hay smell? If it is truly carmalized, it will have a tobacco smell.(your nose may vary) As MulberryGrove stated, the hay wouldn't caramalize at 18% but I have found that you can't completely trust the tester. If the stems are not cured you can have a tester show okay and find that the hay will sweat excessively after it is baled due to the moisture being released from the stems.

Every area is different but if you study up on some of the "universal truths of hay making" (see hay wilson in TX) you can help minimize the effects of those differences.

Edited by sedurbin, 17 August 2011 - 08:33 AM.

#5 plout99


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Posted 17 August 2011 - 08:19 PM

I am located in central Ohio so humidity is a constant issue in the summer. I will have to do a smell test on the hay, can carmelizied hay be fed with no issues? I have some beef cows to run it thru.

#6 farmer2



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Posted 17 August 2011 - 09:08 PM

Not only will they eat, but they may like it more. Cows will eat caramelized hay and do very well on it. However, you do lose some of the nutritional value of the hay, but it is very safe. I would feed 5-10% more that you would normally.


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