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Discuss Moldy hay at the Horse Health forum - Horse Forums.

How do you know for sure if hay is moldy? I have seen hay that ...
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    Moldy hay

    How do you know for sure if hay is moldy? I have seen hay that when you throw it down the dust rises like smoke. Is that mold or dust? How do you know the difference? There is no smell, not black or discolored. I understand that neither dust nor mold is good, just wanting to be able to tell the difference.
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    I didn't know how to describe it, so I looked online.....

    Watch for moldy hay. Any hay can become moldy because of harvesting or storage problems. It can cause respiratory disease and, in rare instances, colic. Usually, horses won't eat moldy hay, and you'll see a lot of it wasted. Bales that are heavier than those around them may be moldy. Look for discolored patches of brown or white. Also, be sure to take a whiff. You can smell mold. Good hay is always clean, leafy and sweet smelling.

    Good hay should be green, rather than brown, and should smell like grass. Never feed moldy hay, because it can make your horse seriously ill. Moldy hay may contain white dust, or black and/or white spots on the bale. If you drop the bale and a lot of white dust flies up, it could be a sign of mold.
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    Here is some more info about the dust you may have seen

    Dust in hay comes from four sources:
    Leaf shatter dust: the hay is extremely leafy and very dry. The leaves shatter during the baling process.
    Soil: dirt is splashed onto the cut hay during heavy rains.
    Molds (mesophilic - grow at 20 - 45C): molds and fungi growing on the cut hay during damp/wet periods prior to baling. Very humid days with poor drying conditions that extend over a number of days, or rainfall, promote their growth.
    Molds (thermophilic - grow at higher temperatures, e.g., >45C): molds and fungi that grow on baled hay at moisture levels greater than 15%. These fungi grow in the presence of oxygen and sufficient moisture when the hay is heating in the mow or in densely packed round bales.
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    You should be able to smell mold before you can see it, but I live by this motto "When in doubt, throw it out."
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    Around here the mold looks like fuzzy white and grey stuff on the hay. You can normally see it on the outside of the bale, if the bale had been wet of something. There is always SOME dust in hay, I usually break the flake up into a pile in the hay holders...rather then leave it in the compacted flake...helps with dust. And yes, you can defintily smell mold...
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    If it smells like gym socks then its moldy.. but like MissBandit said.. when it doubt toss it.. its not worth the possiblity.
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    I agree 102% If it smells like ANYTHING other then normal, dont take a chance: chuck it.
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    How dangerous is mold to horses? I'm wondering because my horses eat off roundbales with the cows, and the outsides are ALWAYS moldy. When I see them eat, they eat off the ends where there is no mold rather than the sides. I haven't been worrying about it because I've always heard horses won't eat it unless they have to, and there's plenty of grass and once the cows get past the outside the roundbales are fine.

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    You should be able to smell it. Rarely will you get one that you can smell it and not see it, although I have before. If you smell it and don't see anything, it's probably in there somewhere, just not the end where you opened it. If it's as 'dusty' as what you described, it's probably moldy.

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    We had the same issue last year. A lot of bales were moldy, but the only one that could tell was my dad (he knows a lot about mold) See all the bales were darker green/black. it was hard to tell which ones were black or green. They were all dusty, and they all smelled sweet. To me, they all smelled the same, i couldn't detect the mold. So we tryed to be as nit picky as possible, but since it was that whole batch of hay, we couldn't just toss all of it. So we put them all aside, and had the "Hay guys" come and take the moldy stuff, and replaced it. Havn't had that prob this year so far. I never thought i would welcome the coarser hay and more yellow, but last year i did, because i knew for sure that it didn't have mold in it. Now we have to pick out the coarser yellow stuff, because our horses won't eat it. Their so picky.
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