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Wrapped hay, is it safe for horses?


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#1 jjb1882

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 05:39 PM

Hi all. I am up in Maine and hay yield has been way down this past year. Many hay farmers  purchased and resold that came from out of state including Canada.

 

Yesterday I purchased an 800 lb wrapped sq bale. When I first checked an open bale at the sellers location the hay looked and felt fine, but once I got a bale home and opened the wrapped bale it had a strong fruity smell to it ... like old fruit salad. When I decompress a flake and fluff it up, it looks fine. It is green and soft.

 

I have no experience with wrapped bales and dont know what is typical.

After researching, I learned more about the risks of wrapped bales to horses botulism and so forth.

Does anyone know how much of a risk there is?

 

I know wrapped hay is used more in Europe, but keep coming across articles warning against wrapped bales here in the US.

 

Does anyone have any experience or input re wrapped hay and horses?

 

Thanks


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#2 Trillium Farm

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 07:26 PM

Hi all. I am up in Maine and hay yield has been way down this past year. Many hay farmers  purchased and resold that came from out of state including Canada.

 

Yesterday I purchased an 800 lb wrapped sq bale. When I first checked an open bale at the sellers location the hay looked and felt fine, but once I got a bale home and opened the wrapped bale it had a strong fruity smell to it ... like old fruit salad. When I decompress a flake and fluff it up, it looks fine. It is green and soft.

 

I have no experience with wrapped bales and dont know what is typical.

After researching, I learned more about the risks of wrapped bales to horses botulism and so forth.

Does anyone know how much of a risk there is?

 

I know wrapped hay is used more in Europe, but keep coming across articles warning against wrapped bales here in the US.

 

Does anyone have any experience or input re wrapped hay and horses?

 

Thanks

This is a big question, I've heard and read of haylage and wrapped bales being fed to horses in the Netherland and even northern Germany, but have never read about side effects. I like you am curious, but would follow "Discretion (Caution) is the better part of valour" Hope someone with knowledge will enlighten us! 



#3 Hayman1

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 08:21 PM

Given that many horses will grass colic on slightly damp green hay out of the field (personal experience ) I wouldn’t do it.  I also supported a high level competition horse that was fed hay late in England and foundered.  Not happening at my barn but I sure was tempted at one time


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#4 Hayjosh

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 08:27 PM

Haylage can be really good for horses and they do like it a lot, but it also will make them much fatter than hay will if not an active horse. There was a period where we fed my horses silage.

Botulism can be a concern if the haylage wasn’t baled at the correct moisture or had too much ash raked into it. Fermentation creates an anaerobic environment in the bale which is inhospitable to many bacteria, but the organism that causes botulism—Clostridium botulinum—is a strict anaerobe so it would flourish. I do not know how to tell if the haylage was produced correctly or not.

Here’s a good article for you.

http://www.omafra.go...fo_botulism.htm
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#5 jjb1882

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 08:38 PM

Haylage can be really good for horses and they do like it a lot, but it also will make them much fatter than hay will if not an active horse. There was a period where we fed my horses silage.

Botulism can be a concern if the haylage wasn’t baled at the correct moisture. Fermentation creates an anaerobic environment in the bale which is inhospitable to many bacteria, but the organism that causes botulism—Clostridium botulinum—is a strict anaerobe so it would flourish. I do not know how to tell if the haylage was produced correctly or not.

 

Haylage can be really good for horses and they do like it a lot, but it also will make them much fatter than hay will if not an active horse. There was a period where we fed my horses silage.

Botulism can be a concern if the haylage wasn’t baled at the correct moisture. Fermentation creates an anaerobic environment in the bale which is inhospitable to many bacteria, but the organism that causes botulism—Clostridium botulinum—is a strict anaerobe so it would flourish. I do not know how to tell if the haylage was produced correctly or not.

 

Another question I have is IS IT actually haylage? I read if it was wrapped it is haylage or baleage ... but it is only minimally moist ... I can tell it is moist within the compressed flake but when I decompress and fluff it dries fast.

 

I contacted our U Ext who said an indicator of possible problem if hay was cut short and raked into bale possibly contaminating, The hay is a mix of short and long ... mostly long. Another thing that concerns me is that the wrap appears to have been torn and the spots that were torn have surface mold. I have read with silage or haylage if there is puncture in wrapping it can cause problems. Do you have experience with this?

 

I am leaning toward trying to return this hay or selling to cow farmer ... but if I were to sell, I would want to know it is safe first. Either way I think I am too nervous to feed. I bought it primarily for my senior mare but I dont want to take the risk of her getting sick ...



#6 jjb1882

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 08:40 PM

Given that many horses will grass colic on slightly damp green hay out of the field (personal experience ) I wouldn’t do it.  I also supported a high level competition horse that was fed hay late in England and foundered.  Not happening at my barn but I sure was tempted at one time

 

I primarily got this as a filler for my senior mare. I have other hay for my herd, but it is on the course side (( I have metabolic mares and look for more mature hay). I am leaning toward not using this hay at all. I am going to wait and see what our EXT vet says.



#7 Onthayman

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 10:11 PM

You can, we have been feeding it for about 15 years . We saw it being fed in Europe when we were touring farms in the 90’s. We started feeding wrapped hay in the early 2000’s because we had a a couple of bad , wet , frustrating years trying to get good dry hay made.
We are a stallion, broodmare , raise young stock to sell for racing operation.
We feed around 300-400 wrapped bales a year to the broodmares and yearlings.
We bale at a moisture level between 30-45 percent. Though we have been as low as 23 percent.
We have always tubed it till 3 years ago when we bought a McHale high speed orbital wrapper for single bales.
There are something like 9 strains of botulism but can only vaccinate for vegetative botulism. We vaccinate for that one and only. The one you have to worry about is botulism that you get from baling up a dead animal into your hay. It can infect a whole tube. I never really ever worried about that because most of the fields we harvest don’t have many live animal issues except the occasional skunk or turkeys. We pull out the dead carcass or the birds get it before we do. We’ve started renting other lands that do have issues with animals so going to single bales might help out if we do get a bad bale. We are still careful but I sleep a little easier at night.
It works , we raise a lot of good race horses . We have 60-80 head on balege at any one time.
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#8 Onthayman

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 10:22 PM

Given that many horses will grass colic on slightly damp green hay out of the field (personal experience ) I wouldn’t do it.  I also supported a high level competition horse that was fed hay late in England and foundered.  Not happening at my barn but I sure was tempted at one time


I think it depends on the breed of horse . I’m feeding Standardbreds and they do well on it. Breeds like Quarter horses maybe not so much.
Our incidents of OCDs is no higher feeding balage vs dry hay. One thing I know for sure I never feed a bale that’s to dusty or to course .
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#9 jjb1882

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 10:57 PM

You can, we have been feeding it for about 15 years . We saw it being fed in Europe when we were touring farms in the 90’s. We started feeding wrapped hay in the early 2000’s because we had a a couple of bad , wet , frustrating years trying to get good dry hay made.
We are a stallion, broodmare , raise young stock to sell for racing operation.
We feed around 300-400 wrapped bales a year to the broodmares and yearlings.
We bale at a moisture level between 30-45 percent. Though we have been as low as 23 percent.
We have always tubed it till 3 years ago when we bought a McHale high speed orbital wrapper for single bales.
There are something like 9 strains of botulism but can only vaccinate for vegetative botulism. We vaccinate for that one and only. The one you have to worry about is botulism that you get from baling up a dead animal into your hay. It can infect a whole tube. I never really ever worried about that because most of the fields we harvest don’t have many live animal issues except the occasional skunk or turkeys. We pull out the dead carcass or the birds get it before we do. We’ve started renting other lands that do have issues with animals so going to single bales might help out if we do get a bad bale. We are still careful but I sleep a little easier at night.
It works , we raise a lot of good race horses . We have 60-80 head on balege at any one time.

 

Thank you so much for this!

What if someone was just wrapping dry hay and not the higher moisture? I honestly dont know the reason this was wrapped ... if it was dry wrapped to prtect or wrapped at a higher moisture content.

 

This particular bale also had surface mold on 3 of the flakes (this was an 800 pound square) and I found 1 blister beetle (has alfalfa in it.

In our state, a few years back 23 horses died from botulism at a farm.

I do worry about this a bit.

Also, I have dealt with carcasses in hay a few times within the past five years from various sellers and worried about botulism but had learned it more commonly comes from contaminated soil and was told if the seller cut some short hay and raked dirt  into the hay. 



#10 Onthayman

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Posted 08 March 2021 - 12:15 AM

Thank you so much for this!
What if someone was just wrapping dry hay and not the higher moisture? I honestly dont know the reason this was wrapped ... if it was dry wrapped to prtect or wrapped at a higher moisture content.
 
This particular bale also had surface mold on 3 of the flakes (this was an 800 pound square) and I found 1 blister beetle (has alfalfa in it.
In our state, a few years back 23 horses died from botulism at a farm.
I do worry about this a bit.
Also, I have dealt with carcasses in hay a few times within the past five years from various sellers and worried about botulism but had learned it more commonly comes from contaminated soil and was told if the seller cut some short hay and raked dirt  into the hay.

We get mold from time to time. Sometimes it’s from either bird punctures or the hay puncturing itself.
If it’s just a spot here or there we don’t worry about it .
This year we wrapped dry hay for a client because he didn’t have storage for his hay and wanted to keep it dry. We put about 5 $ worth of plastic on each bale and it kept really well.
Knock on wood I’ve never have seen or smelled or experienced anything to do with botulism. Most people in the horse business have heard the stories of the large groups of horses dieing and that’s why they shy a way from it.



#11 DSLinc1017

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Posted 08 March 2021 - 12:12 PM

A farm down the road wraps DRY round bales and also inoculates his Belgian  draft horses for botulism.  

 

They haven't had any issues as of yet.   


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#12 slowzuki

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Posted 08 March 2021 - 12:57 PM

Any chance it is "Sweet hay" or hay that is on the dry end of silage/balage? It is popular horse feed around here.



#13 Hayjosh

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Posted 08 March 2021 - 11:48 PM

If you're worried about botulism you can always vaccinate for it, but you need to allow 3-4 weeks for immunity. Botulism exists as extremely resistant and hardy spores in soil or animal carcasses, but they become vegetative cells once they are shocked by stomach acid and bile salts.


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#14 endrow

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Posted 09 March 2021 - 02:01 PM

We have been wrapping hay for over 30 Years and I am still learning , and what I have seen as very dangerous as when the hay that is wrapped is VERY VERY VERY Mature . Always bad news Wet or  Sweet Or Dry. Cant ferment due to negative sugar and nutrients. And if it is rank that is an additional mess with bacteria even if you have a good seal with wrapper 



#15 pettibone

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Posted 10 March 2021 - 01:59 PM

A friend lost 2 draft horses from feeding wrapped hay only after his house and barn burned along with his hay. He also wraps a lot of dry hay now but didn't do that then. If it was dry hay probably would be fine, but I'd be careful. Maybe if you could mix in some dry hay.



#16 Hayman1

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Posted 10 March 2021 - 06:57 PM

I don’t have a dog in this fight as I already have enough experience to convince me not to do it.  However, that said, just because you didn’t get a speeding ticket for the multiple times you were speeding does not mean it is a good idea nor that you will be successful convincing a cop not to give you a ticket the next time.


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#17 jjb1882

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Posted 11 March 2021 - 04:36 PM

Any chance it is "Sweet hay" or hay that is on the dry end of silage/balage? It is popular horse feed around here.

I am not sure what it was. I did wonder if it was sweet hay ... but is was smelled so strong of fruit it made me nervous. It did come form Canada.



#18 jjb1882

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Posted 11 March 2021 - 04:39 PM

We have been wrapping hay for over 30 Years and I am still learning , and what I have seen as very dangerous as when the hay that is wrapped is VERY VERY VERY Mature . Always bad news Wet or  Sweet Or Dry. Cant ferment due to negative sugar and nutrients. And if it is rank that is an additional mess with bacteria even if you have a good seal with wrapper 

Thank you. Can you think of any other reason it would have a very strong fruit smell other than fermentation (think fruit salad that has been sitting in a hot car)?

 

Also, I don't think it was a good seal ... it had tears I think. A few of the flakes were wet and frozen



#19 jjb1882

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Posted 11 March 2021 - 04:40 PM

Thanks everyone. I decided to get rid of that bale. Gave it away to someone with a pig and goats and ... a garden.

It was an expensive lesson.

 

:)






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