Wet Hay-what do I do?

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Hi everyone. While I read daily I don’t post too much. But I’d like to pick the brains of folks with a lot more experience than I have regarding some hay I rolled a couple of days ago.

Most of the bales are fine, but I have some that were too damp. I knew they would be too wet when I baled; however, I baled when I could and needed to get it up.

So I stored them safely with plenty of ventilation and by themselves (not in or near a barn) but my question is would they be safe to feed. I figured I’d just isolate them and discard them later, knowing they would be mold playgrounds. But I’ve read if you feed them shortly after they are baled they are ok.

I’d rather err on the side of caution, but I don’t want to be wasteful and if they are safe to feed I’ll put them out ASAP. If they aren’t safe I’ll just go back to the original plan of leaving them sit.

For background, I have a small herd of 37 bred black angus heifers. Hay quantity is not a concern, I have plenty without these bales, but what would y’all do?

Thanks in advance!
 

MurraysMutts

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How wet were they??
Depending how wet/moldy they are as to weather or not I'd feed bred animals. Lot of risk involved.

If you have a friend with some steers/feeders let him have em.
 

farmerjan

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Roll em out and they will eat what they want. Won't get too much mold that way. In the case of hay being too wet, we will wrap if necessary. But it is not practical for just a few.
Or do like @MurraysMutts said, let someone with steers utilize them...
If you leave them and don't need them, sell them for mulch hay in the spring...we always have people here looking for mulch hay.
 
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NewRenoFarmsInKY
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How wet were they??
Depending how wet/moldy they are as to weather or not I'd feed bred animals. Lot of risk involved.

If you have a friend with some steers/feeders let him have em.
No mold yet. How wet? I don’t have a moisture meter, but wet to the touch. It’s from the rows that were in the shade.

It was on the ground and baled Friday, I would have just rolled them out immediately but I’ve heard grass clippings can be harmful and didn’t want to chance it. But I’ve read a lot of conflicting information so wanted to pick y’all’s brains.
 
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NewRenoFarmsInKY
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Roll em out and they will eat what they want. Won't get too much mold that way. In the case of hay being too wet, we will wrap if necessary. But it is not practical for just a few.
Or do like @MurraysMutts said, let someone with steers utilize them...
If you leave them and don't need them, sell them for mulch hay in the spring...we always have people here looking for mulch hay.
I was tempted to just unroll them all right now before they get moldy. Unfortunately not much of a mulch hay market here that I’m aware of.

Maybe I should buy some feeders 😂
 

MurraysMutts

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Moisture tester is a must!
Every thing else is just a guess.

I've fed hay that was baled as high as 25% with no issues. (Your mileage may vary)
If we have to bale higher than that, I dont want any of it. Lol

That being said. If it was baled Friday, I'd unroll it and let em eat it straight away.
 
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NewRenoFarmsInKY
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Moisture tester is a must!
Every thing else is just a guess.

I've fed hay that was baled as high as 25% with no issues. (Your mileage may vary)
If we have to bale higher than that, I dont want any of it. Lol

That being said. If it was baled Friday, I'd unroll it and let em eat it straight
You should definitely buy some feeders!
More cows. More fun!
Thanks partner, much appreciated! I think I’ll unroll them in the morning
 

sunnyblueskies

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Yeah moisture tester is a must. One's acceptable moisture is anothers unacceptable wet. You are saying baled wet, but without a number.......... It's tough to give an opinion. Did the hay stick to the baler belts when you baled it? Do the bales feel hot now, before you unroll them?
Do you get a cold winter, freezing temps, where you are?
Us, if we do get a few 'wet' bales......... majority of moisture under 20 though....... we just feed them early on in fall/winter and it's ok.

P.S.: Maybe you can borrow a neighbours moisture tester for next time around. =)
 
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TCRanch

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Agree, I roll it out or use it as bedding and they pick through - won't eat the moldy stuff. The only time I've had cows go nuts over bales that were wet was one year there was too much moisture in the alfalfa and it essentially caramelized. Had a funky smell, kind of like molasses and was evidently the equivalent of eating a burnt marshmallow; it's always better. Fortunately, never happened again but our Ag Ext Agent said it was okay to feed.
 

sstterry

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Agree, I roll it out or use it as bedding and they pick through - won't eat the moldy stuff. The only time I've had cows go nuts over bales that were wet was one year there was too much moisture in the alfalfa and it essentially caramelized. Had a funky smell, kind of like molasses and was evidently the equivalent of eating a burnt marshmallow; it's always better. Fortunately, never happened again but our Ag Ext Agent said it was okay to feed.
Cows love caramelized hay. But it has little nutritional value.

Caramelized hay . . . tastes good but little value | Hay and Forage Magazine
 

gusea305

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No mold yet. How wet? I don’t have a moisture meter, but wet to the touch. It’s from the rows that were in the shade.

It was on the ground and baled Friday, I would have just rolled them out immediately but I’ve heard grass clippings can be harmful and didn’t want to chance it. But I’ve read a lot of conflicting information so wanted to pick y’all’s brains.
Role it tight, feed it first. If it carmalizes they'll like it even more.
When you folks say caramelize does it mean it ensiles the middle of the bale?
 

SBMF 2015

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When you folks say caramelize does it mean it ensiles the middle of the bale?
Yes, pretty much, and a little past that. It will get hot, turn the center tan or black, smell like tobacco. It essential cooks the sugars in the plants and turns them in to caramel. The cows love it. Not sure it has much nutritional value.
 

TexasRancher

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Hi everyone. While I read daily I don’t post too much. But I’d like to pick the brains of folks with a lot more experience than I have regarding some hay I rolled a couple of days ago.

Most of the bales are fine, but I have some that were too damp. I knew they would be too wet when I baled; however, I baled when I could and needed to get it up.

So I stored them safely with plenty of ventilation and by themselves (not in or near a barn) but my question is would they be safe to feed. I figured I’d just isolate them and discard them later, knowing they would be mold playgrounds. But I’ve read if you feed them shortly after they are baled they are ok.

I’d rather err on the side of caution, but I don’t want to be wasteful and if they are safe to feed I’ll put them out ASAP. If they aren’t safe I’ll just go back to the original plan of leaving them sit.

For background, I have a small herd of 37 bred black angus heifers. Hay quantity is not a concern, I have plenty without these bales, but what would y’all do?

Thanks in advance!
Roll them all out NOW!, in the muddy-er places on your ranch...Let them eat it...mold will take at least two weeks to prosper. Cattle can handle a little mold...horses can't.
 

jltrent

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Check for heat in the bales. If not hot will be better than you think when feeding. Big stem hay will do better wet than small stem in a bale.
 

Dsth

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looks like a lot of good advice so far. the only thing I would add is buy a moisture tester that can also measure temperature. My tester has both and checking temp on hay like you are describing is essential both for monitoring heat damage and safety. I did find an article from Iowa State University years ago that detailed the relationship between heat temperature and hay damage. info like that may be helpful in the future or now if hay is still unrolled. how many bales are you talking about? you said just from the shaded area, but number of bales may help others like myself give somewhat better advise.
 
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