Protecting Your Horse and Your Money When Buying and Storing Feed
It’s summer! Time to stop banging those frozen bags of sweet feed with a hammer to just get a scoop out! However…this is the time of year when things start to heat up and people begin to think about their feed going bad. There are several management tips and techniques to help you keep your feed from spoiling and money being wasted.
Each bag of feed that you buy will have a date on it that indicates when it was manufactured. The quality of Excel Equine feeds is guaranteed at three months for textured feeds and six months for pelleted feeds. Keep in mind that not all feeds are created equal. Higher fat feeds and especially fat supplements can have a shorter shelf life. Do not overstock yourself with fat supplements or high fat feeds or you might find when you go to open that bag that you will have to throw them out. Fat is very sensitive to heat and can become rancid. I knew a lady that got a hold of some free bags of feed in the summer and held on to them until mid-spring to feed to some horses that she had gotten back in her barn. She opened the bags and what she found was crazy colored feed and I don’t even want to know what was growing in there! Don’t hold on to feed for a long time with no intention of feeding it until much later and still expect it to be good.
It’s not just about how much feed you buy and when you buy it…what you do with it after you bring the feed home makes a big impact as well. If possible, use a separate feed container to dump opened bags into and feed from that. This can be trash cans, custom made feed containers, etc. As long as the container is water proof and sealable, you will be in good shape. You want the container to be locked securely to prevent rodents and bugs from getting into it. Rodents can contaminate feed and have been known to cause botulism in horses. Opossums can also get into feed and their feces if ingested by horses can cause Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis. Also, a sealed feed container will protect your horse from himself if he gets loose and into the feed room and decides he wants to gorge himself on some feed. And let’s face it…horses do not have the will power to say no to their cravings like we do! Furthermore, this might go without saying, but make sure the bins are cleaned out well before adding more feed. Otherwise, the old will be getting more and more new feed piled up on it and the old feed will eventually mold and contaminate all the new feed. Grain mites are also an issue if you continue to pour new feed on top of old feed. Make sure your bins for feed storage are clean and there is not a buildup of fines forming. This is where grain mites will infect your feed if not monitored properly. If you cannot use a separate feed bin and must feed straight from bags, make sure the bags are stored on a pallet that keeps them off the ground. This will protect the feed from possible moisture and allow for air circulation. Another management strategy would be to make sure the feed room is kept clean and well swept to prevent rats from taking up residence there. The location of your feed in the feed room also matters. Make sure it is out of direct sunlight if possible to avoid excess heat. Grain mites thrive in hot and humid environments, so make sure your feed room has decent air flow and is not too stuffy. Finally, if you are going to open a bag of feed, make sure it is going to be used somewhat quickly. Feed inside the bags are kept safer from heat and humidity than feed that is out of a bag.
Don’t let your feed become a second thought. The right consumer knowledge and management techniques will protect your money from being wasted and your horses from ingesting something that will make them ill. Did I miss anything? What management strategies for keeping feed from spoiling do you use? And as always please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments!