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Storage of alfalfa hay in a barn or hay shed is the best option to preserve the quality. Covering bales with vinyl or plastic tarps is next best. Tarps must be firmly tied down and edges set out from stack to allow water to drip away from the stack. Store bales where water will drain away from the stack. Place bales on a crushed rock pad, wood, pallets, or tires to break the contact between the hay and the soil or concrete. Moisture from teh ground can ruin as much hay as leaving the top uncovered.
Before feeding, inspect hay for dust, mold, or other contaminants. Moldy hay should never be fed to horses as they may develop a respiratory allergy to the hay. The most severe form of this problem is referred to as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or heaves. Horses with heaves suffer permanent lung damage. These horses are usually unable to be exercised and thus are not useful for many physical activities. Symptoms of heaves (coughing, difficulty breathing) may be minimized by controlling dust and mold in a horse's environment. Three common management techniques. Three common management techniques include good ventilation, soaking hay in water to prevent dust, and using hay cubes instead of long hay as a forage source.
Hay may be feed in racks or tubs, or it may be placed on the ground. Putting hay in a rack or a tub usually reduces waste, especially when groups of horses are fed together. When hay is fed on the ground to a group of horses, 20-40% fo the hay may be wasted. Wasted will be greater with late maturity grass hay that is low in palatability. When alfalfa is fed on the ground, leaf loss may be high. This is significant because the leaves contain the most nutrients. When using hayracks or mangers, be sure they allow enough space for all horses in an enclosure to eat comfortably at the same time. If there is inadequate space, some horses will be excluded or injuries may occur as they compete for space.
When hay is fed in pasture or paddock to several horses at the same time, it is helpful to group horses by physiological state. This will allow the appropriate matching
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