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CHOOSING HAY When choosing hay there are many variables which can affect the quality of any hay you can purchase. These include: Weather conditions Irrigation Time of cutting Duration of baling Quantity of crops Type of hay However there are certain key elements to consider when purchasing your hay. The below guide will help you identify good quality hay. Appearance: Always inspect your hay closely. Hay should be free of foreign objects and weeds. It should contain leaf mater and be pliable to the touch. Don’t be afraid to break apart your hay when inspecting it prior to purchase. Within the centre of the bale always grab a handful of hay to inspect the quality and quantity of leafy plant matter. Hay should be: Leafy Free of weeds Free of foreign matter Bendable Hay should not: Contain weeds/thistles Contain foreign objects Only contain stalks/no leaf matter Not pliable Colour: A good quality hay should be pale gold to green in colour. Hay which has been cured during rain will be brown to dark brown in colour and is not ideal. Always ensure you check the centre or heart of the bale. If the outside of your bale is yellow or lacks colour this may be simply due to sun bleaching i.e. loss of colour due to the hay being exposed to sunlight. This may cause the Vitamin A content in your hay to decrease slightly but will not vastly compromise the nutritional value of your hay. Ensure you check the centre of any hay you purchase as a quality indicator. Hay should be: Pale gold to Green Always check the centre of your hay Hay should not be: Brown to dark brown Lack of colour throughout the bale Smell: Coumarin is a chemical compound within plant matter which causes a fresh, sweet smell. Hay should always smell fresh and sweet. If your hay is mouldy you may notice a sharp, musty odour. This is an indication that the hay has been exposed to rain or mildrew in the baling process or when it was stored. Hay Should be: Sweet, fresh smell Be pleasant Hay should not: Have a sharp musty smell Smell metallic Indicate signs of mould. Weight: A light, easy to carry bale is an indication that the hay is too dry and contains little to no moisture content at all. This could severely limit the nutritional content of your bale. If your hay is also too heavy to move it could indicate the hay is too moist and thus may contain mould. Once you have tested a few bales and weights you will begin to recognise what a good quality bale feels like. Hay should be: Not too light or heavy Can be moved adequately Hay should not be:  Too light Too heavy Texture: A good hay will be flexible. Your should be able to bend the hay in your hands with ease. Run the hay through your hands. Does it feel rough and course? If it does this could be an indication that it is too dry. Hay should be flexible, easy to touch and should not be difficult to handle. Hay should be: Flexible Ease of handling Pliable Hay should not be:  Hard Unable to bend Sharp, course, very rough
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