Storing Your Horse Feed
If you are lucky enough to have the room to store it, buying hay, horse supplements and feed in bulk could save you money. However, storing horse feed over a long period of time could result in spoilage and this will negate any savings that you have made. So how should you store feed and for how long?
It is possible to store hay indefinitely if it is stored correctly but using hay within three years is advisable especially in humid climates. This is providing that the hay has been baled with the correct moisture levels. If the hay is excessively damp it will start to generate heat and this leads to moulding.
Hay is best stored in barns so that it is not exposed to the weather and measures should always be taken to ensure that rodents and other animals don’t have access to the hay. Direct contact with the floor should be avoided as the hay can wick up moisture from the ground and concrete can cause it to sweat. If you can’t elevate the hay then place it on pallets or a thick layer of straw.
Hay will lose its nutritional value over time but most of this reduction occurs in the first couple of months. The notable exception here is beta carotene, the pre-cursor to vitamin A. Hay will lose roughly 10% of its beta-carotene per month. This is an important nutrient but can be replaced with the provision of horse supplements or balancers.
Grains and Commercial Horse Feeds
Unprocessed whole grains can be stored for a lengthy period of time. In the case of whole oats this could be for as long as a year whereas rolled oats may start to go rancid after only three weeks.
Heat processed feeds such as alfalfa pellets are generally viable for up to six months whilst textured feeds are best used within three months. The higher the fat content of the feed the quicker it will go off. Foods with a fat content in excess of 8% would be considered to be high in fat. In any case vitamins and some minerals will have lost their nutritional value after three months. It is best to calculate how much feed you use each day for your horse or horses and then invest in no more than you will use in three months.
Remember to store your feed in a suitable container such as a large bin to protect it from rodents, insects and damp.
Horse Supplements and Treats
Horse supplements come in a wide variety of forms, including powders, granules, oils and even treats - . They are also provided in a variety of container sizes and types from refill bags, plastic tubs and bottles. When you have opened the horse supplements it is worth making sure you have a clean container with a secure lid to store them in so that they don't spoil and last longer.
If you keep your horse at a yard with other owners, then it might be worth investigating if you could share some horse supplements that several of you use regularly. That way you could buy in larger quantities for at better prices without worrying about it going off. You could also do this with fresh treats such as carrots or apples.
For horse feeds, horse supplements and feed balancers it is important to consider the date of manufacture. Storage effectively begins on this date and not the date that you purchase the products. If there is a use by date on the packaging then this solves your problem but if not, you should be able to ascertain the date of manufacture from the packaging.
Most feed will have this date stamped on the bag but it may appear in the form of a code and coding systems vary. You may have some deciphering to do! Try to make sure that you use textured feed within three months and pellets within 6 months of the date of manufacture.