Making sure you have hay this Christmas
As we move into colder weather, farmers and horse owners everywhere will be ensuring they have more than enough hay to last them and their animals through the winter season. But how do you know if your hay will last? If you are worried about the amount of hay you have left or about the quality of that hay, it may be time to consider looking into meadow hay and the benefits it can provide your livestock.
This month, Hill View Farm is looking at everything meadow hay – what it is, the benefits it can provide and most importantly – where you can purchase it from.
Identifying the best hay for your livestock
Knowing how to identify the best types of hay for your livestock is incredibly important. Horses, in particular, are very fussy about their hay choice, so getting it right could save you money, time and a very grumpy horse.
Hay is generally harvested from pasture meadow grasses and, once harvested, is left to air dry in the fields. The harvest happens between May and July. Once dried out, the hay is bundled and stored in a dry place to avoid excess exposure to water as this can lead to mould, damaging for a horse. Choosing low-quality hay will not bring any nutritional value to the health of your horse.
If you have spotted these points in your hay, we suggest throwing it out:
Dusty or mouldy hay – having a dusty bale is a no go with hay bales – there should be very little to no dust at all. Visible mould is also a sign that your bale has incurred water damage, and this could bring harm to your horse if eaten.
Dull or complete lack of colour – as the saying goes, ‘the fresher, the better’! Hay that is full of nutrients will be fresh in colour, whereas hay lacking will lack colour and may be similar to the colour of straw.
Excessive heat from the middle of the bale – This can occur if the hay was still wet or had not completely dried out when it was baled. Mould can start to grow, and if the bale gets too hot, a fire can start.
Lack of smell – your hay should be sweet-smelling, and anyone who has been around hay for long enough will be able to recognise the scent. If it smells off, chances are it’s not safe to feed your horse or livestock.
Everything you need to know about meadow hay and how it differs from other hay types
Hay is a predominant part of your horse’s diet, and especially during winter, it’s often the only food source available for your livestock to eat. This is why you must keep a good stock of meadow hay available to feed your animals and provide them with all the nutrition they need throughout winter. Meadow hay is harvested from permanent pasture and contains types of grasses that provide all essential nutrients.
Meadow hay is generally leafier than other hay types and is softer to touch. This is because meadow hay (unlike different hay types) doesn’t just contain grass but plants and flowers, including dandelions, daisies and thistles. Whilst other types of hay are only suited to limited livestock. Meadow hay can be enjoyed by various animals, including rabbits and pigs. Due to its soft texture, it also makes for great bedding for many types of animals.
Meadow hay is affordable, which is perfect for farmers with many animals on the farm who need feeding. Purchasing meadow hay in bulk from a local farm like Hill View Farm will result in a cost-effective solution to ensuring your livestock has food throughout the winter. Meadow hay is also much tastier than other hay due to its content. Being made up of several kinds of grass and various plants and flowers means it’s much tastier for your animals, whether you are adding ingredients or simply adding it to their paddocks.
Why meadow hay is so essential for your horses
Meadow hay is made up of grasses such as ryegrass, clover, lucerne and alfalfa. It is usually cut twice a year and is available all year round. Meadow hay is generally considered to be high-quality hay with higher protein content. It also contains a higher level of vitamin A, B vitamins and calcium. Meadow hay is high in fibre which is very beneficial to all animal diets and is low in sugar and starch.
Horses and many other animals are natural foragers. Hence, it’s crucial to provide them with a constant source of food that is rich in nutrients and can give all the vitamins needed that animals may not find from natural foraging. Hay and meadow hay, in particular, is perfect for this. Meadow hay provides a year-round source of nutrient-rich food and, most importantly, due to its sweeter taste, is very palatable.
You may also be interested in:
Hill View Farm can provide you with the perfect meadow hay ready for winter feeds
A key reason to purchase your meadow hay from Hill View Farm is that we have the experience and knowledge to provide quality hay for your livestock. Having been a working farm for over 30 years, we understand a farmer’s requirements when feeding good quality hay for horses. At Hill View Farm, we provide a consistent product so you can be sure of the meadow hay you are purchasing, and we know our fields inside out so you can be sure you won’t be getting any plants or flowers that could be toxic your animals.
If you are looking for high-quality meadow hay for your livestock this winter, get in contact with Hill View Farm, and we can give you more information about our hay products and organise a time and date for delivery that works for you. We look forward to speaking to you soon.