The grass is disappearing and you have a few bales of last year’s old hay sitting in your loft. Should you feed it to your horse? Before you throw away hay that’s a year or two old, do some research. It might actually be completely fine to feed to your horse. You’ll have to thoroughly check it over, but it’s not as bad as you might think.
Surprisingly, old hay can hold onto its value fairly well if stored correctly. It should have been kept dry and out of direct sunlight. Make sure that it is free from dirt and animal urine, or feces, as well.
The bad news is that older hay has almost no vitamin E. To begin with, mowed hay has lost about 90% of this vitamin. Sunlight and prolonged storage drain the remaining amounts. Vitamin E is the number one antioxidant for your horse’s body. It is essential! If you’re feeding old hay, you’ll need to make sure your horse is getting it from somewhere. This can be green pasture, new hay, or a supplement.
Another worry for older hay is dust and mold. Even if you’re positive it has been stored correctly, it is a good idea to thoroughly check it over. Dust from mold spores can cause serious respiratory conditions. Check the smell and look for obvious signs of mold.
Generally, hay that is two to three years old is still acceptable given the right storage conditions. So before you go tossing last year’s hay, give it a check over and feel confident feeding it if everything looks good.