Have I poisoned all of my horses

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hello everyone

I am new to posting and looking for some support / thoughts / observations really

around April I moved my horse (an ex racer who I have owned since may 2020) back home to my family‘s grazing where he has lived with another old pony since. In august I bought a new horse who joined them. All seemed fine and dandy - all very exciting (about 10 years since we had horses here ourselves). The farmer grazes sheep here so we rotate them around the fields , sheep go on, rested a couple of months, horses on. Live out most of the time

early October I decided to get a blood test for the ex racer mainly out of interest as he has always struggled a bit to gain weight. Results came back showing evidence of liver hepatopathy:

Raised AST at 828 (normal <574), raised GGT at 149 (normal <49). Bile acids normal. but I don’t think that vet ran a full liver profile as the comment on the report states one should be done (eg no
LDH). Vet suggested moving fields and changing to haylage and feeding him barley ..

after some research I thought I should get the herdmates tested , the first vet never got back to me at all about this, cue new vet who tested herdmates and they were even worse:

the other horse GGT 482 (normal <49), LDH 1284 (normal 956). AST normal. Bile acids normal But abnormal bilirubin
old pony AST 705 (normal <574), GGT 466, LDH 968. Bile acids normal But abnormal bilirubin
 
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sorry, continued Here!

Liphook want to do a study on them for the causes of liver disease (!)

vet thought with levels that high it must be a recent toxic exposure. They have moved fields but only over the lane, having haylage rather than hay, on special low protein low fat diets with nutra pro LV and legaphyton .

I am awaiting the next test results so am praying they will have gone down or it will be biopsies and steroids for the two big horses.

we will treat for liver fluke too given the sheep

my fear is that there is something toxic on the land that is causing it. A bit late to the party about ergot and they were out in a field waiting to be cut for hay in august. I’ve had a look at the long grasses remaining around the edge and some of them look a bit black and mouldy but not sure if it’s ergot or just the grass heads going over.

I have found some clover leaves with black blotch in the field but it’s not really a great deal. fields were regularly walked for ragwort .

in august and september they did have some hay from our hay crop - before I realised the bales were starting to become black and rotting inside, I think the farmer baled too wet. so maybe it was that.

vet doesn’t think much point in feeding a mycotoxin binder because there are so many in the grasses that the binders do not work against and it is enough to have changed to haylage.

anyway, am feeling pretty miserable about it having all three come down with the same potentially quite serious problem. Not least all plans over the next several months are now on hold but also v worried they will not be getting better and it is my fault.
 

Birker2020

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sorry, continued Here!

Liphook want to do a study on them for the causes of liver disease (!)

vet thought with levels that high it must be a recent toxic exposure. They have moved fields but only over the lane, having haylage rather than hay, on special low protein low fat diets with nutra pro LV and legaphyton .

I am awaiting the next test results so am praying they will have gone down or it will be biopsies and steroids for the two big horses.

we will treat for liver fluke too given the sheep

my fear is that there is something toxic on the land that is causing it. A bit late to the party about ergot and they were out in a field waiting to be cut for hay in august. I’ve had a look at the long grasses remaining around the edge and some of them look a bit black and mouldy but not sure if it’s ergot or just the grass heads going over.

I have found some clover leaves with black blotch in the field but it’s not really a great deal. fields were regularly walked for ragwort .

in august and september they did have some hay from our hay crop - before I realised the bales were starting to become black and rotting inside, I think the farmer baled too wet. so maybe it was that.

vet doesn’t think much point in feeding a mycotoxin binder because there are so many in the grasses that the binders do not work against and it is enough to have changed to haylage.

anyway, am feeling pretty miserable about it having all three come down with the same potentially quite serious problem. Not least all plans over the next several months are now on hold but also v worried they will not be getting better and it is my fault.
I'm sorry to hear the problem about your horses, didn't want to read and run, but sending you positive vibes that your 'gang' get better soon and the test results are better than expected.
 

meleeka

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oh goodness what a worry for you. It does sound like you’ve probably found the cause. Even if you don’t know exactly which thing it was, there a couple or very likely causes. Just another point, have you thought about the water supply? I think you probably just need to get those further tests and then go from there.
 
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oh goodness what a worry for you. It does sound like you’ve probably found the cause. Even if you don’t know exactly which thing it was, there a couple or very likely causes. Just another point, have you thought about the water supply? I think you probably just need to get those further tests and then go from there.
no actually I haven’t thought to test the water supply but that is a very good point, I suppose it could be excessively high in eg something like iron which I think can cause liver damage.. thanks for suggesting

I was thinking of testing the soil for mineral levels but vet told me it can be pretty difficult to get an accurate picture as there can be so much variation between parts of the field and time of year
 

Orangehorse

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Well hardly your fault if you didn't know, don't beat yourself up about it, in fact you have done the best you could as you have had them all tested.

Mineral soil tests - I have heard that it is best to test the forage rather than the soil because it depends on the take up of the minerals. There used to be a lady who did tests for people who were doing barefoot as sometimes a mineral imbalance would mean the horse was having soundness problems without shoes, so it obviously doesn't take much just to tip them over from optimal.

Is there any significance of grazing with the sheep? Have they had access to any supplements the sheep were getting which might have affected them?

Obviously any liver problem and you immediately think ragwort in the forage, but that might have happened a long time ago.

Global Herbs do a series of supplements for various problems and I think they have a liver tonic - ask your vet what he thinks.
 

shortstuff99

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no actually I haven’t thought to test the water supply but that is a very good point, I suppose it could be excessively high in eg something like iron which I think can cause liver damage.. thanks for suggesting

I was thinking of testing the soil for mineral levels but vet told me it can be pretty difficult to get an accurate picture as there can be so much variation between parts of the field and time of year
Is the water from the mains or a private supply? If mains then the water company that provides it will have all of the levels of metals etc. Normally you can look this up yourself on a postcode checker on their website. Legally iron levels cannot exceed 200ug/L.
 

AnShanDan

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Agree you need to wait until the other test results come back, it does seem suspicious that the land is cross grazed with sheep, so that if your horses hadn't had a previous exposure to fluke that might be your problem.

Otherwise, environmental toxins seem the likely other issue and ergot is a possibility given your description of the grazing. Ergot is fairly recognisable, black extrusions in the seed head.

What a worry, hopefully your diet changes will start to show in improved liver function bloods, these can be slow to respond tho.
 

Ambers Echo

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Sorry no useful advice but didn't want to ignore your post. You cannot blame yourself. You have had your herd tested when many wouldn't and you are taking decisive action. Really sorry you are going through this and hope everyone comes good in the end.
 

SEL

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The good thing about liver is that it heals - so if you can track down what caused the problem, remove the source, support the liver and it will slowly start to heal.

There are some great combined supplements out there but I fed vitamin E alongside a herbal support. It took a yard move and 18 months before bloods were in normal range. For mine it was probably underground water. I had no idea the wet in the field was anything other than a miserable wet winter until the following summer when it was obviously a spring. Turns out the spring had caused problems in prior years including poisoning fish in the nearby pond! The field was completely dry when they went in there so I was just clueless.

Its very stressful and I know how easy it is to blame yourself and think 'what if'. Really hope you get them sorted and get some answers.
 

Brownmare

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I really hope you get to the bottom of this, I just wanted to add some info for you re the sheep. Liver fluke in sheep need an intermediate host which is a snail that likes to live in wet ground or at the edge of streams etc. If your fields are dry with no watercourses you most likely won't have a fluke problem because the intermediate host won't have a suitable habitat to establish but if your ground is wet you can treat with triclabendazole which is the same product used on cattle or sheep.
I have had a horse with a liver issue (brought on by mould in haylage) and a course of Ron Fields Remount really helped her recovery so you might want to try that once you have identified the cause.
 

criso

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Just to add, liverfluke can be tested for. There were similar issues at a previous yard which we never identified the cause of. Almost all the horses had raised ggts. Most of the other liveries didn't take it that seriously given that the horses seemed outwardly ok. I ended up going for a biopsy as it was covered by insurance.

They were able to eliminate ragwort, viruses and liverfluke, the latter being a test that had to go to Liverpool as they are the only ones that do this. The liver hadn't suffered any ill effects.

Conclusion was that it was probably something they ate but no way of knowing what. I treated with milk thistle, vitamin a and mycosorb.

I then moved yards and a test earlier this year showed ggts nearly back to normal.

Recently talking to a vet said they were currently doing a study to investigate these persistent liver issues that seem to crop up with no identifiable reason but may be particular to an area/yard.
 

ester

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Fluke would def be a possibility that you can at least treat. Liver issues do seem to be particularly tricky to work out causes for even when all horses on the grazing are affected.

Local to me a yard had an issue, they were on very wet ground and high stocking density- that turned out to be fungal/soil issue and they had to be removed for quite a long period of time (there are horses back on it now)

I do resonate with the I moved my horse and made it sick though! 4 weeks after taking my boy 'home' after being on livery for 4 years he went photosensitive and had high liver numbers (his fieldmate who had lived there forever was fine on bloods) - we never did find out a cause for him, he didn't have any other symptoms and he seemed to improve over the subsequent months on milk thistle- he's been on daily bute for 3 years without setting it off again too.
 

PurBee

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Great suggestions above - especially get iron levels and other metals in their primary water source tested as high iron levels have been linked to liver issues.

Cross-posted with ester - was going to mention have any got photosensitivity? 2 of your horses are new to you, and old liver damage from say, eating ragwort in the past damaging the liver cells that cannot regenerate due to ragwort poisoning, then puts the horse at risk for photosensitivty. Interestingly there are some (i cant recall the specifics) ‘fluorescence’ compounds in ryegrass which can also trigger skin symptoms of photosensitivity, due to the liver not being able to break down these particular compounds in ryegrass and so they circulate in the bloodstream and can exhibit hives and ‘sunburn’ on white areas of the horse. Tetraploid ryegrass is worse for this effect than diploid.

I got into this when my gelding had a weird episode of huge hives that ended up allover his body and i was researching non-stop on everything he was exposed to. His trigger ended up being buttercup in haylage. New type of haylage just got in, his issues started the next day after having the new haylage. It was the only thing consumed by him that was new. Buttercup contains a toxin which is neutralised when dried in hay, so harmless for them to eat - but when its in haylage the toxin remains. This particular haylage was absolutely loaded with buttercup and was particularly wet at around 50-60% moisture. They certainly avoid eating buttercup leaves in the fields, so they know they cant have them. Theyd eat oak and ivy leaves rather than buttercup! I stopped the haylage once i realised, but the toxin circulated for 2 weeks in his body and the hives remained and slowly faded. He also had laminitis due to this acute toxicity episode. His weight dropped, poops sloppy… so this was an acute episode yet if he was a bit-here-bit-there buttercup field eater id expect to find these symptoms coming and going, being less severe. So never under-estimate the toxic effect of common plants when eaten in unusually large amounts.

With ergot you would see symptoms of changed behaviour, sweating, neuro issues. Ergot alkaloids, especially ergovaline causes constriction of arteries/veins, so high BP, possible sweating and laminitis symptoms, aswell as colicy behaviour. The ingestion would have to be really quite acute for you to ‘notice’ theyre not right, yet ingestion of some here and there over a continuous period would show milder versions of the above symptoms. Im unsure of the liver effects from ergot though…id have to hunt deep into google for equine ergot liver studies.

Regarding liver flukes - the bilirubin can remain fairly normal while other liver enzyme levels are abnormal with fluke infestation. Even in human medical studies of flukes, these liver figures are similar and the treatment is the same we give cattle! So really dont rule out liver flukes, and perhaps treat for them anyway considering rotational grazing with sheep, especially if the land has damp/waterlogged areas.

Youve identified most the major causes of liver issues and i hope the study youve been invited to participate in yields the true cause.
When will your gang start the study?
I was going to mention using milk thistle to aid the liver as its an extremely brilliant healing seed to use for any and all liver issues. But if your horses are going to be studied you dont want to introduce any remedies that could potentially affect their findings of causation.
 

TPO

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If you haven't already it might be worth posting on the Facebook page "land management for horses by Dr Lisa Schofield". (Remember to say please and thank you, she's a stickler for that 😬).

That might give you a starter for 10 regarding tracing the source. They can advise on soil, water and forage testing.

Highly recommend Pro Green for soil testing and analysis.

It might also be worthwhile contacting Forage Plus. They provide soil testing too and can advice on minerals and supplements that may help.

On that note others in here have had good results using supplements from Trinity Consultants. They do a "detox" type supplements as well as liver support. I haven't used the service (I think @Red-1 has) but apparently they are very knowledgeable and helpful.

Go's without saying that I wouldn't feed anything new without speaking to your vet.

Really sorry to hear your news and I hope that you get better news soon.
 

Bob notacob

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A yard with some 35 horses I know has been battling with this problem for 2 years .Finally we worked out that only the horses on hay had the problem . A sample was sent for analysis and came back positive for significant levels of Aflatoxins. Hay is now routinely tested for this at this yard. These toxins can also be found in growing grasses .Incidentally ,no horses became obviously sick from this apart from one unproved case which may well have been due to something entirely else. No horses on haylage had a problem.
 
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Thank you everyone for your thoughtful and helpful replies!

one of them did actually get what I thought was a badly sunburnt nose in August - he is grey with a pink nose - but then he seemed to recover from it - the other two also grey but not pinky grey and didn’t have any sunburn type affliction. So interesting about the hives Purbee.


Their old field I have moved them off is dry but the new field they are on now is wet and boggy at the bottom as it runs along a river.
the troughs come from mains water and from the website of the water supplier for this area the mineral levels etc seem within normal ranges

I have had the new blood results now - would be a month after the first bloods for the ex racer and two weeks after for the other two. As above a month ago I moved them off the dry field into the other field and changed them to haylage, the supplements they are on have milk thistle and vit E.

New bloods are good news! We ran albumin GGT and bile acids again.

The ex racer is now almost within a normal range for GGT at 78! (Normal <49) . Albumin and bile acids ok.

old pony and the other horse are still way up for GGT 348 and 332 but have reduced quite significantly from 2 weeks ago 482 and 466 . Their albumin and bile acids ok too.
I dread to think what theirs must have been 4 weeks ago .


so this seems to point to either the hay source being the culprit - consuming potentially mouldy hay in september or something toxic in it, or something in their old dry field - rather than ALL the grazing here which I was having nightmares about.

I will walk old field religiously before they go back in there in due course but also re test GGT before they do and after 2 weeks of being in there too.

They were briefly on a second source of hay for the second half of September when I realised our batch had mould - this second source is being analysed via the vet although I’m not sure for mycotoxins specifically - is that different to a general analysis? So far we have found out that it is pretty nutritionally useless so nogood for anyone apart from old pony


here’s hoping the GGTs continue to fall being on the new pasture and on the haylage and we will restest in 4 weeks.
 
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We will still be doing the Liphook study, which sounds very interesting, they are basically looking at the prevalence of mycotoxins via urine samples:
« Although many hundreds of mycotoxins exist, little is known about many of them. Several mycotoxins are known to contaminate human and animal food. Two such mycotoxins known as aflatoxins and fumonisins are already known to be able to cause liver disease in horses. A recent study revealed mycotoxins in more than half of the cereal samples tested in the human food chain within the European Union and it is reasonable to suspect that cereals destined for animal feeds will be of even lower quality. Additionally, harmful mycotoxins have been found in about 30% of forage samples fed to horses in the UK. The aim of this study is to use the highly sensitive method of mass spectrometry to compare urine samples from horses involved in outbreaks of liver disease, with horses with healthy livers in order to show how common mycotoxin exposure really is. »
 
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A yard with some 35 horses I know has been battling with this problem for 2 years .Finally we worked out that only the horses on hay had the problem . A sample was sent for analysis and came back positive for significant levels of Aflatoxins. Hay is now routinely tested for this at this yard. These toxins can also be found in growing grasses .Incidentally ,no horses became obviously sick from this apart from one unproved case which may well have been due to something entirely else. No horses on haylage had a problem.
gosh how stressful having a yard problem with 35 horses. That is good the testing revealed the hay was the problem - was the hay source changed to another local provider ?
I say it’s good that it turned out to be the hay but also alarming that these toxins can be so prevalent in hay and in grasses.
 

PurBee

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We will still be doing the Liphook study, which sounds very interesting, they are basically looking at the prevalence of mycotoxins via urine samples:
« Although many hundreds of mycotoxins exist, little is known about many of them. Several mycotoxins are known to contaminate human and animal food. Two such mycotoxins known as aflatoxins and fumonisins are already known to be able to cause liver disease in horses. A recent study revealed mycotoxins in more than half of the cereal samples tested in the human food chain within the European Union and it is reasonable to suspect that cereals destined for animal feeds will be of even lower quality. Additionally, harmful mycotoxins have been found in about 30% of forage samples fed to horses in the UK. The aim of this study is to use the highly sensitive method of mass spectrometry to compare urine samples from horses involved in outbreaks of liver disease, with horses with healthy livers in order to show how common mycotoxin exposure really is. »
Thats excellent news about the new field and dropping liver results….well done for being vigilant and testing at specific food/field change times.

Mycotoxins are a real pain for us horse owners - as you say even the human food chain has levels of them, so animal feeds are usually of a lower quality and also suffer. They’re mostly invisible to see so very hard for us to detect unless its obvious mould growth and smell of musty/mouldiness.

It makes sense a whole herd would suffer weird liver levels on slightly dodgy hay with moulds, as the liver has to work hard to try to neutralise/detox those toxins.
Your ex racer could be struggling with weight if the liver is busy dealing with mould toxicity, also being the breed he is could make him more susceptible to weight loss when organ issues arise.
My ‘blood’ gelding when younger, would drop weight very rapidly whenever he had bouts due to plant toxicity or moulds.

I will admit, whenever i have my horses on a hay-less diet - just fresh grass grazing and good quality well made haylage, they thrive sooo much. My area is a very wet climate and its difficult to find well made hay free of mould. Im in the process of throwing out 600 quids worth of hay bought a few months ago as its just too musty smelling, with the cut ends growing mould - inside looks /smells fine, so i have to spend an hour per day pulling off mouldy edges then steaming/soaking and aside from steaming the lot to kill the mould spores, which im not prepared to spend over 1k on a machine or electric bill and time doing, or soaking hay all winter in boiling water…again time/money…there’s no use for it aside from the compost heap!

I dont like them being on haylage as their predominant forage source in winter for a variety of reasons, but despite those reasons, having tested them on it Verses hay - they do better on it due to no moulds at all - than any hay source ive tried, which i have always struggled to find well-made, storing and smelling fabulously fresh, without mould issues. I say that having imported hay from all over the EU!

There are lots of haylage companies now, in the uk especially, but these days there’s many that offer ‘high fibre’ ryegrass haylage. The ryegrass is cut later and therefore higher fibre, less sugars. Haylage of the past was ryegrass ‘super crack’ as i’d call it - creating feisty dragon horses for many. Yet the later cut high fibre ryegrass haylage is vastly different. Marksway and Devon haylage are 2 brands i’ll recommend for their high fibre ryegrass. Devon haylage do ryegrass/timothy mix which i LOVE but costs me a fortune now to import. Both are great companies to deal with if you have any issues, will immediately respond and rectify. My 2 horses are not in what we’d call ‘work’ at all and on high fibre ryegrass haylage they maintain a good weight and behaviour, gut health etc on those brands…and theyre high % arabs with welsh D dragon blood!

In contrast, ive tried mine on ryegrass hay, and it was a disaster. They became footy, low grade laminitis, weight issues. I suspected moulds too. They would bite at their bellies. I’ve concluded that the fermentation process of ryegrass haylage ferments the sugars and fructans, breaking fructans down to forms easily soluble for the body and therefore they dont have the super high sugar hit that ryegrass hay has. Fructans have been a concern for equines, yet i truly think fructans get altered through the fermentation process of haylage as the difference in my horses on ryegrass haylage verses ryegrass hay is night and day. You wouldnt think the same species of grass would affect them differently if made into haylage or hay, but it really does!

Fingers crossed your gang continue to improve 🙂 look forward to hearing updates!

Just be careful of ‘mixed meadow grass’ haylage from any source - its a better haylage to have if you can find it due to the variety of grasses offering our horses a mixed species diet, but get a couple of trial bales before committing to a pallet, and make sure there’s not loads of buttercup leaves in it. There’s many field plants with toxins that are neutralised ONLY when FULLY dried to make hay - if these plants are in haylage, because its a wet forage, those toxic compounds remain. If there’s just a few leaves here and there dont worry, but if every handful contains buttercup, or dock, best not feed that.

Moisture of between 40-50% for any haylage is preferred for full fermentation to take place and produce a really nice end product. Anything wetter and it’ll be ‘vinegary’ and more acidic for their gut to deal with, anything drier and its potentially not fully fermented and therefore higher sugars if ryegrass.
Not all haylage is made equal, and many farmers make ‘damp hay’ wrap it and call it haylage to buyers, but its just damp hay that isnt wet enough to ferment. That type of ‘haylage‘ can grow mould within the wrap due to lack of moisture and loose bale pressure.
 
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That is so useful and interesting Purbee. I have to say I didn’t really pay a great deal of attention to hay I’ve had in the past beyond it ‘looked ok’ and didn’t smell obviously mouldy (this latest batch of mould aside), knew it was meadow hay And from a source that also supplied local yards. But actually I probably know quite little about what was actually in it, apart from it being a general meadow mix with some nettles etc. I wonder if local farmers etc would be able to tell you exactly what was in their meadow hay rather than just ‘general old grasses’ which I have been told before. I wouldn’t be able to say what was actually in the hay taken from our own fields , although now I think about it some of the damp bales came from the wet field which has a lot of buttercup in it So perhaps the buttercups had something to do with it. not something I have worried about while grazing on the basis they don’t eat it (but maybe I should be more worried?)

ive also realised my hay storage system needs some overhauling as it has been in the Same barn as the horses overnight sometimes and the amount of condensation on the walls etc is really noticeable, and that can’t be good for it getting damp.

im quite a fan of the horsehage small bales as they claim to be able to say what the moisture content is and eg sugar etc - I understand that production is basically franchised out to different farmers but presumably all have the systems to support those claims.

am using timothy mix haylage for them at the moment due to the low protein content which is apparently easier for the liver according to the vet. Also quite like the Devon Timothy mix which I started getting for old pony as it is a bit softer and easier for him to break off with his elderly teeth! The local place I get it though they tend to try and sell bales which have had their seals broken during transit which I find a bit alarming as i understood once the air starts getting in it starts the process of going off.. they bring unbroken ones when you ask however (!)

I am wondering if there is a more cost effective way of giving them haylage though rather than buying in small bales , I think somewhere near me does yeoman haylage bales in the same size as regular hay bales , however the advantage of the small bales I assume is that there is less risk of going bad - i would normally be giving hay in the field over winter but am worried that eg leaving a large haylage bale out for them it would go bad. what do you think ?
 

PurBee

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That is so useful and interesting Purbee. I have to say I didn’t really pay a great deal of attention to hay I’ve had in the past beyond it ‘looked ok’ and didn’t smell obviously mouldy (this latest batch of mould aside), knew it was meadow hay And from a source that also supplied local yards. But actually I probably know quite little about what was actually in it, apart from it being a general meadow mix with some nettles etc. I wonder if local farmers etc would be able to tell you exactly what was in their meadow hay rather than just ‘general old grasses’ which I have been told before. I wouldn’t be able to say what was actually in the hay taken from our own fields , although now I think about it some of the damp bales came from the wet field which has a lot of buttercup in it So perhaps the buttercups had something to do with it. not something I have worried about while grazing on the basis they don’t eat it (but maybe I should be more worried?)

ive also realised my hay storage system needs some overhauling as it has been in the Same barn as the horses overnight sometimes and the amount of condensation on the walls etc is really noticeable, and that can’t be good for it getting damp.

im quite a fan of the horsehage small bales as they claim to be able to say what the moisture content is and eg sugar etc - I understand that production is basically franchised out to different farmers but presumably all have the systems to support those claims.

am using timothy mix haylage for them at the moment due to the low protein content which is apparently easier for the liver according to the vet. Also quite like the Devon Timothy mix which I started getting for old pony as it is a bit softer and easier for him to break off with his elderly teeth! The local place I get it though they tend to try and sell bales which have had their seals broken during transit which I find a bit alarming as i understood once the air starts getting in it starts the process of going off.. they bring unbroken ones when you ask however (!)

I am wondering if there is a more cost effective way of giving them haylage though rather than buying in small bales , I think somewhere near me does yeoman haylage bales in the same size as regular hay bales , however the advantage of the small bales I assume is that there is less risk of going bad - i would normally be giving hay in the field over winter but am worried that eg leaving a large haylage bale out for them it would go bad. what do you think ?
The buttercup in the bad rotting bales could be a culprit for tipping their livers over the edge, but if theyre not eating them growing in the field, and you didnt feed much of that hay, they should, in theory, recover from that toxicity within 2-4 wks, yet your liver results have shown this to be a longer issue. Its worth bearing in the back of your mind it may be the buttercup. I was surprised at my geldings reaction to it, and how long it took for recovery, considering he had a minimal amount, due to it being new haylage it was being introduced 25% at first, before i stopped it when hives on chest appeared.

I’d only consider the buttercup if in the hay it was damp to the touch - anything over 35% moisture would likely hold the toxin it has inherent in it, and hay should ideally be below 20% moisture…i prefer 15% once cured For it to store well.

Hay storage solutions has been a mini project of mine for yrs! Its so hard to keep a dry product like hay, bone dry in an air environment which is mostly 70% moisture! Hay bales just absorb the moisture like sponges, from the air and the outside of the bales starts moulding. Especially during winter storage.
The easiest solution i’ve trialed is to buy a roll of breather membrane, (or a breather membrane large tarp if you can find one!) and once the hay is stacked tight and neat, cover all sides with ‘roofing’ breather membrane. It allows moisture out for the bales to breathe, and stops moisture going in to the stack. It needs wrapping as tight as possible around the whole stack….held with ropes. Going into that wrapped hay stack in january and smelling a summery fresh hay aroma as you open a bale is wonderful!
(*Edit to add - its vitally important to have the breather membrane on the right way round. It normally has ‘outside’ written on it for that side to be facing out. If its on the wrong way round it’ll absorb moisture into the stack and stop the stack from breathing as its a semi-permeable membrane allowing moisture out in 1 direction only)

I’ve also never had a farmer tell me grasses in their hay when ive asked. They say ‘its mixed, no weeds’…i ask ‘much ryegrass?’ They reply ‘no’….i find the hay has plenty of weeds and ryegrass and everything else normally!
Im on the farming forum and they are funny as they moan us horsey folk are so fussy with hay -they say “we spend all that time getting it dry, and they go and soak it in water before feeding their horses!” The penny is dropping that many horse people dont want cow fattening food - 100% ryegrass hay - and prefer mixed meadow grasses. 😆


Yes, marksway horsehage is franchised to some huge farms. They have a standardised system all their farms implement.
Devon timothy mix is lovely and i prefer that for moisture content and the softness as you describe. Devon haylage do pallets of their smaller bales. They make them from larger bales - you could enquire directly with them if you could purchase larger bales.

There are some other haylage producers who do larger bales. If youre feeding 3 in winter you’ll be feeding around 30kg daily as a rough ballpark?…so to leave outside for them to help themselves a bale, youd want 100kg bales, as proper haylage once opened and exposed to the air generally is good for around 3 days. Drier haylage would last a day or 2 longer.
I wouldnt be keen on leaving such a bale open in rainy conditions, but thats because we can have days of rain here and would probably spoil the bale if on the ground the bottom of the bale would spoil. (Do you have a sheltering large tree you could put it under to protect from driving rain conditions?)
If the bale is kept tight, and you literally just peeled off the plastic wrap, any rain should run off the bale, and would wet the outside only, which they are eating, so theoretically it shouldnt spoil as theyre constantly eating from it, it won't get a chance to spoil, in normal weather conditions.

I am shocked the local place are trying to sell bales with rips in the plastic! That’s definitely not on! Air ingress will cause spoilage in storage. Reject any and all bales that have any tears/rips in the plastic, no matter how small. If that rip has been there for weeks, air will have got in and would cause spoilage of the whole bale eventually. I’ve been given refunds for bales with tears in the plastic that got damaged during transit.

Regarding bigger bales - ive found a few in the uk that do them, but most dont deliver to me in ireland, especially since brexit. I havent tried these brands i’ll link to, so cannot personally recommend them but they look promising and do a whole variety of haylages. Also do consider if you want to have some bales of timothy, try their meadow haylage, and have some ryegrass, many companies will do a mixed pallet load for you:

https://www.writtlehayandstraw.com/product-category/haylage/ - these do 120-150kg bales of meadow hayalge, and ryegrass.


https://www.bailliehaylage.co.uk/bale-sizes-and-handling/ - these do larger bales too. Ive been in touch with them and they were fast to respond and very helpful, despite not being able to deliver to ireland.

Both the above brands look good from their websites , offering many types of haylage mixes, and offer larger bales which works out financially better than buying small bales, if youre feeding more than 1 horse.
 
Joined
7 November 2021
Messages
12
The buttercup in the bad rotting bales could be a culprit for tipping their livers over the edge, but if theyre not eating them growing in the field, and you didnt feed much of that hay, they should, in theory, recover from that toxicity within 2-4 wks, yet your liver results have shown this to be a longer issue. Its worth bearing in the back of your mind it may be the buttercup. I was surprised at my geldings reaction to it, and how long it took for recovery, considering he had a minimal amount, due to it being new haylage it was being introduced 25% at first, before i stopped it when hives on chest appeared.

I’d only consider the buttercup if in the hay it was damp to the touch - anything over 35% moisture would likely hold the toxin it has inherent in it, and hay should ideally be below 20% moisture…i prefer 15% once cured For it to store well.

Hay storage solutions has been a mini project of mine for yrs! Its so hard to keep a dry product like hay, bone dry in an air environment which is mostly 70% moisture! Hay bales just absorb the moisture like sponges, from the air and the outside of the bales starts moulding. Especially during winter storage.
The easiest solution i’ve trialed is to buy a roll of breather membrane, (or a breather membrane large tarp if you can find one!) and once the hay is stacked tight and neat, cover all sides with ‘roofing’ breather membrane. It allows moisture out for the bales to breathe, and stops moisture going in to the stack. It needs wrapping as tight as possible around the whole stack….held with ropes. Going into that wrapped hay stack in january and smelling a summery fresh hay aroma as you open a bale is wonderful!
(*Edit to add - its vitally important to have the breather membrane on the right way round. It normally has ‘outside’ written on it for that side to be facing out. If its on the wrong way round it’ll absorb moisture into the stack and stop the stack from breathing as its a semi-permeable membrane allowing moisture out in 1 direction only)

I’ve also never had a farmer tell me grasses in their hay when ive asked. They say ‘its mixed, no weeds’…i ask ‘much ryegrass?’ They reply ‘no’….i find the hay has plenty of weeds and ryegrass and everything else normally!
Im on the farming forum and they are funny as they moan us horsey folk are so fussy with hay -they say “we spend all that time getting it dry, and they go and soak it in water before feeding their horses!” The penny is dropping that many horse people dont want cow fattening food - 100% ryegrass hay - and prefer mixed meadow grasses. 😆


Yes, marksway horsehage is franchised to some huge farms. They have a standardised system all their farms implement.
Devon timothy mix is lovely and i prefer that for moisture content and the softness as you describe. Devon haylage do pallets of their smaller bales. They make them from larger bales - you could enquire directly with them if you could purchase larger bales.

There are some other haylage producers who do larger bales. If youre feeding 3 in winter you’ll be feeding around 30kg daily as a rough ballpark?…so to leave outside for them to help themselves a bale, youd want 100kg bales, as proper haylage once opened and exposed to the air generally is good for around 3 days. Drier haylage would last a day or 2 longer.
I wouldnt be keen on leaving such a bale open in rainy conditions, but thats because we can have days of rain here and would probably spoil the bale if on the ground the bottom of the bale would spoil. (Do you have a sheltering large tree you could put it under to protect from driving rain conditions?)
If the bale is kept tight, and you literally just peeled off the plastic wrap, any rain should run off the bale, and would wet the outside only, which they are eating, so theoretically it shouldnt spoil as theyre constantly eating from it, it won't get a chance to spoil, in normal weather conditions.

I am shocked the local place are trying to sell bales with rips in the plastic! That’s definitely not on! Air ingress will cause spoilage in storage. Reject any and all bales that have any tears/rips in the plastic, no matter how small. If that rip has been there for weeks, air will have got in and would cause spoilage of the whole bale eventually. I’ve been given refunds for bales with tears in the plastic that got damaged during transit.

Regarding bigger bales - ive found a few in the uk that do them, but most dont deliver to me in ireland, especially since brexit. I havent tried these brands i’ll link to, so cannot personally recommend them but they look promising and do a whole variety of haylages. Also do consider if you want to have some bales of timothy, try their meadow haylage, and have some ryegrass, many companies will do a mixed pallet load for you:

https://www.writtlehayandstraw.com/product-category/haylage/ - these do 120-150kg bales of meadow hayalge, and ryegrass.


https://www.bailliehaylage.co.uk/bale-sizes-and-handling/ - these do larger bales too. Ive been in touch with them and they were fast to respond and very helpful, despite not being able to deliver to ireland.

Both the above brands look good from their websites , offering many types of haylage mixes, and offer larger bales which works out financially better than buying small bales, if youre feeding more than 1 horse.
thanks so much for the v interesting response! The membrane sounds like a great idea.
re the big haylage bales, I think you’re right without somewhere they could be more protected I would be a bit worried about them being out in the elements. But appreciate the suggestions on the big bale suppliers as I could potentially try and keep them inside somewhere if they would get through enough of it.
More blood tests next weekend so hopefully all will have continued to improve.
The ex racer seems generally quite unhappy though especially around his belly and he is usually quite an easy going chap so I am having him scoped next week.
liphook have sent some urine pots to collect some samples so I will be waiting around to catch some wee !
 

Marigold4

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 May 2017
Messages
1,106
I feed mine on bagged Country haylage. It's meadow grasses, dry, doesn't ever smell, never mouldy and I've not yet had a single rip or hole in a bag. Expensive but the horses eat every last scrap.
 

ycbm

Well-Known Member
Joined
30 January 2015
Messages
39,656
https://www.writtlehayandstraw.com/product-category/haylage/ - these do 120-150kg bales of meadow hayalge, and ryegrass.

https://www.bailliehaylage.co.uk/bale-sizes-and-handling/ - these do larger bales too. Ive been in touch with them and they were fast to respond and very helpful, despite not being able to deliver to ireland.

Writtle deliver only to neighbouring counties and Essex.

I have Baillie Haylage. Their delivery is on pallets unloaded by forklift, so it's quick and easy. They are the only supplier I know who does this. Pallet deliveries by pallet companies are moved on on pallet lifters, weight limited and impossible if access is not on flat concrete or tarmac.

Baillies is excellent quality, the service is great, but their biggest bales are probably 20% smaller than most suppliers, which with the delivery cost makes it a very expensive option, though not as expensive as branded small bale.
.
 
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