Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hay Day

Sunday was Hay Day for us. We unloaded 20 tons of alfalfa into our barn in 90 degree heat.

We enlisted the help of a big work crew--our nephew and his friend and a bunch of the neighborhood boys. It took about 3 hours to get it unloaded and stacked in the barn, but besides a little grass hay--this will get us through to next year. See that bed of hay in the picture with the guys tossing off the top layer so it can fit in the barn? We had two of those beds full of hay. I do not know HOW we fit all of that into our barn. It sure doesn't look like it!

The semi came through the breezeway of the barn, as you can see in the picture. It just barely fit, but the driver was quite skilled in maneuvering his truck. Unfortunately, we didn't open the front door high enough, and his exhaust pipe caught it and bent it up. It's all fixable though. It's not like we haven't done THAT before!

Here's most of the hay--minus about 2 tons that was still outside. This picture really doesn't do it justice--it seems like there's so much more in real life!

The goats liked it. Here they are sneaking some off the pile. They've snuck lots more by this point.

The horses have all loved it, too. We got it out of Waitsburg, WA. There's a grower down there who does it for a living--that and wheat. He's going to get 5 cuttings off of his alfalfa field this year. This is the 2nd cutting, and every bale is uniform and perfect--lots of leaf--0 weeds--low moisture.

The thing I really liked about having it delivered by semi is that I could see the official weight slip, so there wasn't any guessing going on. We got 15 tons last year and 20 this year--and this stack was double last years size and much better hay.

As for price--last year we paid 240/ton delivered for mediocre hay. That was a killer! This year--150/ton delivered for the best hay I've seen in a long time. It appears prices have come way down. Even this grower said they dropped their prices from last year. Anyone else have exprerience with hay this year?

Lea told me that Arlene had some of the most beautiful hay she'd ever seen down her way, (Lea went down to sign Wildairo's paperwork a few months ago) but neither of us knew how we'd get it up here.

As it turned out, the cost of the semi bringing it up here to us from Waitsburg was was much cheaper than I imagined: $470.00--which, broken down, was $3.00 per mile. I always figured a semi would cost around $1000 for a load like that. Although the semi does belong to the grower--so he probably subsidizes the cost. Or, do those semis get much better gas mileage than I figured? Is what I paid the usual cost?

My husband told our hay bucking volunteers when they couldn't believe how much hay we were getting--Boys, happy horses make a happy wife--and I'm going to have a very happy wife for the next year!

Truth be told, I think I also have a very happy husband. Getting the hay up and putting that behind us is a big relief.

I made the choice to put the bulk in alfalfa this year--returning to what I used to feed up until a couple years ago when I switched to alfalfa/grass mixed bales because I got tired of not knowing what was in each bale. I didn't feel like the horses wintered as well as before either.

I talked to my farrier about it and he has always fed alfalfa and feels that either is good as long it's good quality and fed in the right proportion.

I know some people swear by grass, and I understand their reasoning--it being more natural and helping to keep them warm in winter.

Anyone else have thoughts on alfalfa versus grass?


  1. At this point, our hay is just about the same price as last year. $3.00 a 45 lb bale.
    I have always heard alfalfa colics easier but you don't have to feed as much.

  2. We keep alfalfa for some of the horse, the ones we put in the barn in the winter and grass for the others. They all stay round and have nice coats. Thats a good price delivered for sure.

  3. Wow, 20 tons of alfalfa is a lot of hay! How many horses do you have? It's weird the differences in amounts of hay people feed. I feed out about 2 tons of hay per horse, but my brother-in-law puts up WAY more than that per horse. I think I remember him saying 16 tons per horse, but that can't possibly be right...

    I don't feed alfalfa to most of my horses. I tried feeding half and half last year because I got a deal on alfalfa and I wasn't happy with my horse's behavior. All of my mustangs and my appy are super easy keepers and just don't need it. But the old man, Coda, won't eat anything else, and it helps his tummy issues, so that's what he gets, along with a lot of other stuff (beet pulp, grain, vitamins, oil, Probios).

    Congratulations on getting the job done! It sure makes a person feel good having the whole winter's supply in the barn, and no more stacking to do.

  4. I love this topic of HAY. I love hay--and I love talking about it!

    I really like the idea of feeding high quality grass, but it seems I have never found it. I've seen other people with it, and they usually get it from suppliers who don't take new customers.

    We've been getting our hay from the same guy for two years now, (alfalfa/grass combo) but last year he gave us some mediocre hay and I was disappointed all year. But it wasn't bad enough to give it back--it was just mediocre. So, we figured we'd live and learn and not go back to him again.

    Old Red--29--has been on alfalfa his whole life (besides the last 2 years), and now that he's old and his teeth aren't so good--it's best to keep him on it. Last winter was hardest on him. He lost some weight and his coat looked dull. I was supplementing with a senior feed, too.

    Beautful is scrawny--so I think she needs to up the protein. She looked her best last year when we were still feeding our good crop of second cutting alfalfa/grass--it was very rich and green--but some of his bales had too much moisture.

    Shadow is fat--and he is my easy keeper. I'm going to have to be REALLY careful with him--as well as the pony.

    Cia, my 3 year old filly--or 4 I guess--came from a Quarter Horse farm where they fed FREE CHOICE alfalfa. Can you believe it?!? They raised world champion Quarter Horses--they were HUGE GARGANTUAN MONSTERS with teeny feet. I asked the owner about that practice (because, of course, I was shocked) and he said they'd only ever had one horse founder. I saw it with my own eyes, or I wouldn't have believed it!! Cia looked good when she came from their farm though--and has never looked as good since.

    When I got my first horses in the 80's--it seemed everyone fed alfalfa. But in the 90's I think the research was showing signs that it might cause some issues like enteroliths ("stones") in the intestinal tract which can cause colic, laminitis (possibly founder) in horses prone to getting fat, and more concentrated (ammoniuish) urine and more need for free choice water.

  5. Oh, Andrea--I have 7 horses. That's interesting about 2 tons per horse. I think you're about right on--but is that for the whole year or just until the grass comes up?

  6. We put up 15 ton last year and it was so nice to have it all done, but I had alot more horses then. Now I am down to 2 horses and have about a ton and a 1/2 left. I really need to get some hay in too, but have not been able to yet. They guy we usually get our hay from called and said he couldn't sell it to us this year. We have been feeding straight grass hay, but may go back to some alfalfa. I don't know just depends on what I find. :)

  7. Very interesting seeing your hay delivery! So much hay! I'm envious!

    We've had our problems with hay but this year, I think we've finally gotten it right. A fella my husband works with is also a farmer. They're having a good hay year so he has agreed to sell us 200 bales. I have to chuckle at everyone here talking about tons of hay when I talk about bales!

    My horses get either mixed grasses, or timothy, depends on how the crops do each year.

    We'll be getting timothy this year. Southern Ohio, at least in this central area, alfalfa hay isn't grown much. Most people around here don't buy it simply because we're used to the grasses and timothy mix. They're cheaper and in more abundance.

    A couple of weeks ago my husband and son helped bale the hay we'll be buying. It's good stuff and I am so happy the hay supply is good this year. The farmer is looking to get a 3rd cutting which hasn't happened in the past 4 years. It's been wet this year, but there have been enough dry days to get some good cut and bale days.

    I like the part about hay makes a happy wife! My husband says that too!

    A few years ago,at the stable where I worked, we had 500 bales(they were big 50-60lb+ bales too) of alfalfa delivered for fourteen horses. It came from up around Toledo,OH. It was good stuff. We did feed less during the time we had it but it was more expensive. I think the manager went back to local mixed grass/timothy the next time around.

  8. Tina--I bet you're happy to only have to buy enough for two horses this year! You shouldn't have a problem finding some either--I think most growers are getting at least one extra cutting this year and I'm seeing lots more ads for hay than I did last year. Good luck!

    Leslie--that's very interesting about your area. You bring up a good point--REGION.

    In our area, selenium is very low in the soil--so all the hays--unless you ship in from Montana are a bit poor in that area. I don't see a big price difference between grass and alfalfa around here, but you have to feed more grass than you do alfalfa.

    I know some areas, like California, grow mostly alfalfa--so that's what's available. Sounds like you live in a wonderful, grassy area!

    That's funny that you count in bales! I think we have about 500 out there--there were 24 to a ton, supposedly, and we actually paid for 20.5 tons=492"bales". :)


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