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  #1  
Old 06/13/13, 01:50 PM
 
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horses eating moldy hay

Neighbor was just down here wanting to borrow my sprayer to spray 2-4-D on his pasture. he has a few horses on around 7 acres which he reseeded, OR I DID, this spring and they have kept clipped pretty close since, giving the weeds a start.
In the course of conversation, he said that horses can eat moldy hay without it effecting them, OR AT LEAST KILLING THEM. I said I thought that it would/could kill them, and if not, they had a name for what horses got if they ate moldy hay. Whos right?

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  #2  
Old 06/13/13, 02:15 PM
 
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Moldy hay can make a horse colic, colic can kill them. It can also contribute to heaves, which I don't know If that will actually kill them by itself, but they sometimes are euthanized for it.

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  #3  
Old 06/13/13, 02:19 PM
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The way I see it, I get out of my livestock what I put into them. If I feed my horses and cattle crap feed, I certainly can't expect them to thrive.

As a rule, horse owners are advised that feeding moldy hay can cause colic, heaves, allergies or digestive problems.

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  #4  
Old 06/13/13, 02:21 PM
 
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Horses can get heaves from eating moldy or dusty hay. It's like asthma. If you feed the moldy hay outdoors, on the ground, and if it gets rained on a bit while they are eating it, that can help minimize the problems with feeding moldy hay. Making the horses eat the hay out of a manger or a feeder makes those problems worse because the spores are trapped around the horse's nose, don't blow away, and get inhaled.

The other problem with feeding moldy hay is that some types of mold produce what are called mycotoxins, which are poisonous. Not all molds produce them, but some do. Mycotoxins are bad bad news. Horses get diarrhea, get skinny, get sick much more easily, suffer organ damage, die.

There's some people down the road from me that have been feeding their horses round bales since they moved in a couple years ago. Round bales made here in my area are notorious for having plugs of mold. Over the winter three of their five horses got real skinny and now two of them are no longer to be seen in the field. Last winter they were all fat. That's the risk you take feeding round bales here.

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  #5  
Old 06/13/13, 02:23 PM
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It can cause them to founder beside colic. It is not like many other animals- the horse can not throw up his stomach contents. What goes in must go through. And if it's toxic it still must travel on, damaging the horse all along.
If he has ever seen a colicly horse, sweating, rolling on the ground, groaning, and sometimes rupturing his intestines or stomach- he would know what a filthy thing it would be to deliberately feed them that.

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  #6  
Old 06/13/13, 02:39 PM
 
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Well, there's moldy, and then there is MOLDY! We all feed "moldy" hay from time to time, not necessarily on purpose, but you might have a bale that had a damp spot in the middle, or was leaning against the wall of the hay shed. That type of "moldy hay" doesn't really bother me...especially if fed outside like I do most of the time. My horses get more than enough hay that they will leave behind anything that is unpalatable, and sometimes that's the only way I know there was something icky about a particular bale of hay (e.g. when something other than hay gets baled in by mistake like a branch with leaves or a plastic bag). Obviously if you have a lot of moldy hay you can have other problems - heaves in particular.

Now, MOLDY hay - e.g. the ones on the floor of my hayshed, bales that you know were baled wet, round bales that have been rained on...I would not feed them, ever. I know horses can get botulism; I assume there are other illnesses that they can get from eating bad hay.

I would think that horses would not eat hay that was really gross, but I don't think you can depend on it. And certainly horses that are not being offered anything better will probably eat it no matter how moldy it is.

I am hoping that I'll be able to get anything but moldy hay this year with all the rain we're getting! My hay supplier's first cutting was damp and he's feeding it out to his own cows and not selling it. Crossing my fingers!

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  #7  
Old 06/15/13, 01:23 AM
 
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Feeding horses moldy hay is a bad idea all the way around. Watch a horse with Colic once and you'll pay really close attention to what they are fed......

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  #8  
Old 06/15/13, 07:49 AM
 
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Yes, feeding moldy hay is a terrible idea and CAN cause serious problems that CAN lead to death. Have I seen horses that have eaten moldy hay with no apparent problems? Yes. Have I seen horses colic and die from eating moldy hay? Yes.

One thing I've come to accept (for better or for worse) is that you cannot control how other people care for their animals. But you can offer constructive advice whenever possible, and set a good example by taking great care of your own. Some people just don't care as much as I do though, and there's not much I can do for them.

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  #9  
Old 06/15/13, 03:49 PM
 
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Most horses before they take a bite of most anything will give it a good sniff. If they aren't being starved to death they'll almost always pass on any hay that isn't good. They can detect stuff with their nose that humans miss.

I've seen people in this neck of the woods buy some of the worst hay in the world. Horses so hungry they will sort through eat what's marginally good leave the rest. That generally means most of what they payed for is wsted anyway. Why not just buy decent hay?

Lots of good advice on the toxity of moldy hay in previous post here.

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  #10  
Old 06/15/13, 06:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarmboyBill View Post
Neighbor was just down here wanting to b, he said that horses can eat moldy hay without it effecting them, OR AT LEAST KILLING THEM.
It can indeed kill them.
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  #11  
Old 06/15/13, 10:16 PM
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FarmBoyBill, you don't raise Clydesdales do you? Cause if you do I know the guy feeding the moldy hay, lol. The guy that bought the property behind us. We water and feed his horses through the winter in exchange for a ton or two of hay and/or paying our water shares in the spring. I cringe when I feed them. Can't say anything other than a few helpful comments to him because the's the hubby's boss. I've fed some hay to ours that had a little mold where there was a hole in the tarp covering it, but he feeds hay that was baled wet, wasn't covered properly to begin with, ect. I try and set off to the side the worst of it, and let him decide to actually throw it out to his horses. I even saw him rake up all the carp that had accumulated on the ground over the winter and pitch some of that in. Ugh. He's growing his own hay on the back half of the property and it's like baled grass clippings full of weeds. He's a nice enough guy, but not very horse savvy.

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  #12  
Old 06/19/13, 04:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jennigrey View Post
Horses can get heaves from eating moldy or dusty hay. It's like asthma.
I've heard that heaves is more like COPD than asthma. COPD (emphysema or chronic bronchitis). It is a progressive disease that ends in an uncomfortable death where the patient basically suffocates to death. There is no cure and the symptoms cannot be reversed. OP's friend is taking a big risk. Having had a horse that died from colic, I can tell you I'll never willingly feed moldy hay. If I smell any mold, I throw out the whole bale.

What purpose does it serve to feed bad food?
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  #13  
Old 06/20/13, 07:54 AM
 
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Off the grid beat me too it, there's moldy hay and there's MOLDY hay! Must be a NY thing. If you ever put horses out on an old pasture you can watch them eat garbage that any 'horse person" will swear will kill them. I've seen them scarf up old leaves, rotted looking duff, bark, all sorts of stuff and then turn and eat nice green grass for a few bites and then go back to the junk. My gut tells me the horse has a pretty good idea of what he's eating and if given a choice won't eat something that will hurt him- usually. I've also watched my horses grab a chuck from a round bale and "lip it" and spit it out onto the ground. I think given the choice most horses will eat whats good for them and avoid the bad.

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Old 06/20/13, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by offthegrid View Post

I know horses can get botulism; I assume there are other illnesses that they can get from eating bad hay.
I don't think many animals actually get "botulism" there can be some colonization in the colon of young animals. Clostridium botulinum is a bacteria that produces a toxin under anaerobic conditions. That is, it is not the infection from the bacteria that is a problem, it is its feces. That it is why it is such a problem with "water bath" canned food, that does not have enough acid or sugar to suppress it. There is no problem with jellies, pickles or tomatoes, but most other foods are not safe unless pressure canned (212F does not kill the bacteria)

Botulism is usually a problem when an animal eats something which in with the bacteria are thriving, and therefore is rich with its waste products. Sort of "guns don't kill people, bullets do"
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  #15  
Old 06/20/13, 12:16 PM
 
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Yeah, but don't we still say that they "got botulism"? Like saying that some guy killed another guy "with a rifle".... even if they shot them and didn't bludgeon them over the head with the stock?

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  #16  
Old 06/20/13, 12:24 PM
 
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Anaerobic conditions can be found in the middle of round bales. The larger, wetter and more tightly-packed the bale is, the more likely that botulism will thrive. A quick Google search of the words botulism, moldy and hay will show you the general consensus from many reputable sources.

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  #17  
Old 06/20/13, 07:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by o&itw View Post
I don't think many animals actually get "botulism" there can be some colonization in the colon of young animals. Clostridium botulinum is a bacteria that produces a toxin under anaerobic conditions. That is, it is not the infection from the bacteria that is a problem, it is its feces. That it is why it is such a problem with "water bath" canned food, that does not have enough acid or sugar to suppress it. There is no problem with jellies, pickles or tomatoes, but most other foods are not safe unless pressure canned (212F does not kill the bacteria)

Botulism is usually a problem when an animal eats something which in with the bacteria are thriving, and therefore is rich with its waste products. Sort of "guns don't kill people, bullets do"
I agree that most animals don't become infected with botulism in the wild. But I think that a big, wet, rotting round bale of hay is just the type of environment that might harbor botulism bacteria. And horses given no other choice will probably eat it.

Whether it's an infection caused by the bacteria or its feces...it's no good. Tough to pressure can a round bale of hay. That's why we feed small squares.
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  #18  
Old 06/29/13, 02:07 PM
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I know a guy who had a hay problem..started soaking every bale he fed..put it in a old bath tub overnight..fed wet the next day,,stuck another one in. no more problems.

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Old 07/01/13, 05:31 PM
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  #20  
Old 07/01/13, 06:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by doomas View Post
I know a guy who had a hay problem..started soaking every bale he fed..put it in a old bath tub overnight..fed wet the next day,,stuck another one in. no more problems.
Doing that will keep the dust and mold spores down, to help prevent respiratory problems if there's just a bit of mold.
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