Farm Hay vs Store Hay?

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Cass C

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
154
I am looking to purchase a bale of hay for my chinchillas from a local farm, but I wasn't sure if there was anything I needed to be aware of while looking at farm hay that you don't need to do with store bought hay. I know the hay basics, but it seems like perhaps farm hays may have more risk for contamination. I could be wrong. I am currently using the Kaytee hay as it is the most affordable store bought hay. However I can get bales of hay for $10 or less that should last way longer than a bag of Hay.

I see a lot of mixed hays in my area such as Timothy/alfalfa mix or oat/orchard grass, is this something I sould stay away from?

Also are there any specific questions I should ask about their growing or harvesting process?

Is there any extra risk to purchasing farm hay vs petstore hay?

Any help is welcome!
 

becky12883

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 26, 2012
Messages
751
Location
WI
You want horse hay, not cattle hay. Mostly grass hay like timothy or orchard. I don't mind a little oat or alfalfa and/or clover mixed in. I ask if it's been organically grown, where it's been stored, when it was harvested, and what they are feeding it to or who they're selling it to. You can ask if it's first or second cut, but that doesn't always matter. Second cut is usually a little softer/leafier and first is rougher/stalkier, me and my chins prefer 2nd. I usually get a small square bale for $5, I split it in third and store one third, use one third, and donate the last third. It takes me about a year to a year and a half to go through that 2/3 of a bale with my 3 boys.
When you go to pick it up, smell it. If it smells musty at all, then pass on it. If it smells like grass, then go for it. I like to feel it too, if it's really stiff and dry I usually pass too.
There's no added risk to getting your hay from a farmer, there's probably more risk with the stuff from the petstore. The more something is processed, the more opportunities for contamination. It's the same as with your food. Plus the farmers feed this stuff to their animals, they aren't going to risk losing animals to bad hay.
Good luck!
 

Dreamlite

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Joined
Dec 9, 2011
Messages
1,130
Location
Dallastown, PA
Becky gave a lot of good points. Also ask if it has been rained on. The would put it at a higher risk of mold stop just make sure to check the bale thoroughly. I always cut the bale open to check the center before I buy it. Orchard or Timothy mix horse quality hay is the way to go with chins. I get my hay by the bale as well. Just store your extra in a dry cool place with good ventilation.
 

ticklechin

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 14, 2009
Messages
8,087
Location
modesto CA
And if you are lucky like me and become the owner of a bale the chins won't touch, donate it to a local rodent rescue!
 

Michellemazz

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 6, 2015
Messages
90
Location
New York City
I have horses back home and concur with above posting - horse hay is generally higher quality the cattle hay (cows eat everything - 4 chambered stomach)

Hay bailed wet will mold.
To tell if this has occurred, the trick a lot of ranchers use is to look at the baling twine.
If it has any hint of rust, that is a big NO GO.

If you put your hand between the flakes and it is warm, That is also a No Go.
That means mold or some other nastiness is brewing inside.
Hay bailed wet can have the outside part dry overtime, but because they bale it so tight, the inside won't dry out.

Horses have super strict diets and are picky eaters. ( I've had to bring orange Gatorade sport buckets to horse shows because even water had to taste like home for my horse - that's how picky a horse can be)

Horse people will likely understand your chin plight hahaha. The number one cause of horse death is colic (digestive disease caused by poor food, switching food, too much food, food not fed at right intervals, wrong food, moldy food, food fed too soon after exercise, food fed too close to exercise, switched food etc etc etc)

I don't know if this would affect chins, but horse people have to be careful about buying alfalfa.
There is a bug called a blister beetle that is lethal to horses. The blister beetle feeds on the purple flower heads on alfalfa. Like its name suggest it blisters the horses digestive tract up. I know every horse owner steals clear of budded bales of alfalfa. Even if you don't see the beetles, they can be scooped up and crushed in the bailing process. The toxin is still potent on the hay. It doesn't go inert.
 

Idgie

Chin Geek
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
296
Location
Chicago burbs
I get a bale of "grass" hay--orchard grass, I'd say. (The farmer near me harvests various types of hay.) There is some alfalfa in there, but of course Idgie finds that to be a treat lol. I just go in the barn and pick a bale that I like. And it is for horses.
I store it in a big garbage can on wheels that I drilled large holes in it so that it gets air. I keep it in the basement. A bale is way more than enough for one chin for the year. But for $10, it is a steal. And it smells fresh & Idgie eats it (after she picks her favorite pieces, of course).
 
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