Feed is amongst the biggest expenses every horse owner has, which makes it so important to waste as little as possible. Feed wastage is often a result of poor storage and poor feed room maintenance, which leaves our products susceptible to damaging conditions. In today’s blog post we discuss tools we can use to identify unfavourable feed conditions, storage options and some feed room tips.
What are the signs that my feed is in poor condition?
Just as you would with your own food, there are a few signs to look out for that would indicate that your horse feed may not be right to use. These include;
- Feed can show mould spores, black dots, or may even begin to clump uncharacteristically
- Feed may become damp from water or sweating. Moisture both degrades quality and provides an environment for mould spores
- Often common in Hay. Some items caught in harvest can be fully removed. However, items such as weeds/burs and animal contaminants are tricker to extract. In this case, it is safer to discard the affected product.
- Does it smell like it should? Some contaminants may not be visible to the eye. Smelling off, unusual or even damp, would be indicators of a compromised condition.
In order to preserve the condition of our feed, until its date of expiry, there are a few storage options to consider
- Don’t store feed on the ground- use pallets to elevate it off the ground to deter rodent nests, and any laying water
- Use drums/bins with tightly secured lids for bagged feeds. A tight-fitting lid will avoid moisture buildup, dust and deter rodents (or even the occasional horse that may find its way into the feed room!)
- Store your feed in a separate room where possible. Having a lockable sealed door is particularly handy for keeping out unwanted visitors
- Consider light and heat. Does the location of your feed room get any direct sunlight (through skylights/windows/doors), if so consider the placement of feed, in respect to such. Supplements will be most susceptible to heat, as will be any dark-coloured drums/packaging.
- Keep the feed room tidy. Clean up any spills and loose feed daily.
- Clean your feed drums at the end of each bag. Allow drying before refilling.
- Alternate the stacking of bags and/or hay at each level. This will make for a sturdier stack, which will be less likely to fall and break.
- Label your drums, and where possible have separate feed scoops for different types of product, to avoid mixing ingredients whilst in their storage bins.
Tips and tricks for maintaining good feed quality
- Read the directions for storage on the product!
- Each product should display storage directions on the label (hay, raw grains and chaffs excluded). Take the time to read and make sure your storage is up to standard. Particularly be mindful of supplements, as some may require very specific conditions.
- The “Use By” Date is the “Use By” Date
- By law, all processed products must display a Use By date on the packaging. This may often be found near the batch number, either on the back product label or sometimes on the underside of the product. If the product has expired, discard it following the disposal directions and replace it.
- Don’t mix bags of the same product
- When storing in bins, it can be tempting to keep refilling the product to make it easier to reach. But there are two very important reasons why you shouldn’t do this
1. Placing new feed on top of the old feed. As the feed gets older down the bottom, not only may it reach its expiry, but it becomes more susceptible to degrading quality and contaminating all the feed in the drum
2. Mixing batch numbers. If you find a serious processing or contamination issue with your feed, the manufacturer will require the batch number to properly identify and take any necessary action for the potentially affected batch. Mixing products eliminates the ability to correctly report on the precise batch number.
Written by Sharne H.