Having an adequate supply of food on hand for your horse at all times is vital to their wellbeing; however, there are certain precautions that must be taken to ensure that all hays and grains stored for consumption by horses will remain safe for them to eat. Certain preventative measures will help keep your horse’s food safe from decay.
Grains should be stored in containers made of materials such as metal or plastic with tight lids in order to discourage pest encroachment and prevent degradation. It is advisable not to keep more than a month’s supply of food at a time since the risk of mold or contamination rises with time. Grain will also begin to lose some of its nutritional properties the longer it is stored. If your grain is in bags, do not open them until you absolutely need to, and do not stack them too high. If you need to store grain long-term, it is advisable to keep it in a temperature and humidity-controlled facility to help prevent mold from growing.
Hays are also susceptible to many types of degradation and mold growth. Storing them indoors somewhere with low humidity and temperature will ensure the ideal environment for preserving the hay’s nutritional value, which may decrease with time and elemental exposure. Baled hay should contain less than 16-20% moisture in order to minimize the risk of mold growth and spontaneous combustion, which can occur when there is excessive microbial activity in the hay. If hay is too moist, spread it out in a cool, sheltered place to allow it to dry out further. Store hay bales in a leak-proof building, with a barrier between the hay and the floor; this prevents condensation on the bottom of the bales, which can lead to mold growth. If it’s necessary to store hay outdoors, make sure to adequately protect it with tarps.
You should never feed your horse any food that has become contaminated with mold. Fortunately, if you take the proper precautions and store your hay and grains properly, the risk of mold growth can be minimized.