Ted Walker, Director at topqualityhay.co.uk, gives his 5 tips for recognising a good

  1. High leaf to stem ratio; Good hay has plenty of leaf matter and not just an abundance of stalks and mature seedheads. If it just contains the latter, it has been baled past its best. “More leaves typically mean higher digestibility and nutrient content for animals” says Ted.
  2. Smell – “Good hay smells gloriously sweet” says Ted, “in fact, if you love the smell of freshly mown grass, then this is what your nose should detect, freshness and no old odours”. The centre of a bale is where the sweet odour is at its best. A sharp, musty or metallic odour that is offensive means the hay is mouldy.
  3. Colour – Good hay is a pale green to pale gold in colour. “Haymaking is all about timing. Luckily, our business has years of deciding when to mow our grass” says Ted. If hay looks dull and brown, the grass was too wet when cropped and if it’s really golden, it may have been too dry when cut” Ted explains. The best area to assess colour is in the heart of a bale, not
    the outside, which can be bleached by daylight.
  4. Dust – “Dusty hay is definitely one to avoid” says Ted, “there is only one place the dust will end up and that’s in your animals lungs”. Whatever the cause of dust, it needs to be avoided.
  5. Texture – “How does the hay feel when you touch it? If it feels coarse, your animal is likely to find it that way”. A good leafy hay will be easy to touch and even the stems in a good hay should be flexible.