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moldy hay?  RSS feed

 
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we have 25 + year old hay in out barn. Its not visibly moldy but does have that billowing dusty look to is then you drop a flake on the ground. I am told that is mold as well. The problem is we have TONS of this stuff. Like a whole barn full. I use it as much in my garden and we throw bales into the pasture to add organic matter but this pile is not going away.

Can I use it as bedding for ewes while their in jugs with their lambs? I was thinking I could break up the bale outside the barn a toss it around a bit to get some of the mold and dust out than pitchfork it in the barn and add some new straw on top.

If thats a bad idea I will scratch it, I was just hoping to come up with more uses for it.

Anyone have any fun or creative ideas for it? We don't have a tractor btw, so giant compost turning is not an option.

Thanks!!
 
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I would don a seriously good protective dust mask and compost the lot of it. 

I wouldn't worry about taking strings off the bales, or turning it, just get it outside, where the dust won't blow towards any people, pile it into a big heap, wet it if possible, and leave it to get on with it.  Your lungs are worth more than the value of the hay as anything other than compost.  It will rot down in time whether you turn it or not.  When it's rotted, pull the strings out as you find them.  If you have manure to put over it to keep the dust in, that might help too.
 
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It would be unwise to use moldy hay as bedding.

I would also be careful about making a huge pile with it and soaking it all down.  You could potentially start a fire.  I've seen quite a few farmers lose huge stacks of hay and barns/sheds by putting it up too wet.  So being able to turn the pile can be necessary.  If you are wanting to compost a large amount of it then I would make a long row about 3 feet high, and be prepared to turn it frequently.

Composting and mulching with it would be great.  You could also look into selling it as moldy mulch/compost hay, it just depends on your market.  In my neck of the desert, people purchase moldy hay and straw for their gardens.  I purchased 200 bales of moldy straw this fall, it's a commodity here.  But when I lived in green farming country, people gave away moldy hay/straw.
 
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Taylor Cleveland wrote:we have 25 + year old hay in out barn. Its not visibly moldy but does have that billowing dusty look to is then you drop a flake on the ground. I am told that is mold as well. The problem is we have TONS of this stuff. Like a whole barn full. I use it as much in my garden and we throw bales into the pasture to add organic matter but this pile is not going away.

Can I use it as bedding for ewes while their in jugs with their lambs? I was thinking I could break up the bale outside the barn a toss it around a bit to get some of the mold and dust out than pitchfork it in the barn and add some new straw on top.

If thats a bad idea I will scratch it, I was just hoping to come up with more uses for it.

Anyone have any fun or creative ideas for it? We don't have a tractor btw, so giant compost turning is not an option.

Thanks!!



First off, others have cautioned about the health hazards. If it is "dusty" the first thing to do is try and get some of that dust onto some white paper so you can see if there is any color to it, green, gray, black, yellow all indicate mold is what it is.
If the dust is mold, then bedding is out of the question I would think.  If you have any doubts as to if it is mold or not, mist down a flake (out doors), get it nice and damp, let that sit for around 3-5 days and then open up the flake, if the "dusts" was mold spores you will find active, growing mold when you open the flake.
If you don't find mold at that time, then most likely it was just hay dust and you would be able to use if for bedding. The odds are, unfortunately against 25 year old hay not having mold spores but one never really knows until you do the test.

You can still use if for path way cover, mulching trees, strawberries, vegetables, and using as brown composting material. You can use them for water control (making a berm out of them) and even for terrace building should you need either of those.

Redhawk
 
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I wouldnt use it for animal bedding if's mouldy, nor would I waste the effort of watering it etc.  The composting suggestions are all great uses, but we use old straw for a lot of mulching purposes.

We are in North Central Bulgaria and have been developing our smallholding over the past 3 years.  We have been getting maybe 20 x 300kg round bales of 12-18mth old wheat or barley straw from a local dairy farm (left over / unusable from their previous years winter bedding stock) and have used it successfully for a wide range of purposes.  We deep mulched (18 inches) our orchard to cure our dock weed problem - and 18 months later have a lush clover, grass and wildflower covering and zero docks .  We deep mulch our raised beds with it and just plant through it in spring, we have a few bales in our pig/poultry areas and use it to put down when the weather is really bad or some areas of the paddocks have gotten too muddy - it gives the pigs more traction and gets worked in / ploughed in by them helping to prepare for broadcast seeding when the paddocks are not in use.  We also use it to deep mulch around our stands of young Paulownia and forage/fodder trees, shrubs and fruit bushes.

This winter (2017) we have deep mulched (again about 18 inches) two large plots of about 2000 sq meters to experiment with no tillage.  These areas were ploughed and harrowed mechanically and used for maize and fodder crops this year.  In 2018 one area will be left fallow, with the straw to acts as weed exclusion except for melons and water melons, and in the other area we won't plough it, but just pull the straw open in rows to expose the over-wintered soil, and sow fodder beet, sugar beet, tobacco and cabbages.

Best of luck!!
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We pay about 10 euros per bale, delivered
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Deep mulch on what will be beets, cabbage, tobacco in 2018
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Deep mulch as weed suppression on what will be a fallow area in 2018
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In pig paddocks as mud cover during wet weather (fresh straw inside the shelters though)
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The chooks do a great job of flattening it and scratching through it wherever it is put down
 
Taylor Cleveland
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Thank you all!! I was pretty sure I couldn’t use it for bedding. But a girls gotta try! I think we will just continue to use it as mulch until we get a tractor where we can turn a large compost pile. Unfortunately we kinda need it out of the barn ASAP because we have no room for the current hay we need.

Do any of you turn compost with a tractor? Our neighbor is always driving by with his and I wonder if we couldn’t strike some deal where he would turn t for us every so often. That would be wonderful! Maybe give him a dozen eggs a week if he would turn it for us every other week or so?
 
Taylor Cleveland
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Nick Truscott wrote:I wouldnt use it for animal bedding if's mouldy, nor would I waste the effort of watering it etc.  The composting suggestions are all great uses, but we use old straw for a lot of mulching purposes.

We are in North Central Bulgaria and have been developing our smallholding over the past 3 years.  We have been getting maybe 20 x 300kg round bales of 12-18mth old wheat or barley straw from a local dairy farm (left over / unusable from their previous years winter bedding stock) and have used it successfully for a wide range of purposes.  We deep mulched (18 inches) our orchard to cure our dock weed problem - and 18 months later have a lush clover, grass and wildflower covering and zero docks .  We deep mulch our raised beds with it and just plant through it in spring, we have a few bales in our pig/poultry areas and use it to put down when the weather is really bad or some areas of the paddocks have gotten too muddy - it gives the pigs more traction and gets worked in / ploughed in by them helping to prepare for broadcast seeding when the paddocks are not in use.  We also use it to deep mulch around our stands of young Paulownia and forage/fodder trees, shrubs and fruit bushes.

This winter (2017) we have deep mulched (again about 18 inches) two large plots of about 2000 sq meters to experiment with no tillage.  These areas were ploughed and harrowed mechanically and used for maize and fodder crops this year.  In 2018 one area will be left fallow, with the straw to acts as weed exclusion except for melons and water melons, and in the other area we won't plough it, but just pull the straw open in rows to expose the over-wintered soil, and sow fodder beet, sugar beet, tobacco and cabbages.

Best of luck!!




I love the pictures! It looks like you all have a awesome system developing! Thanks for the insight, very helpful
 
Taylor Cleveland
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:

Taylor Cleveland wrote:we have 25 + year old hay in out barn. Its not visibly moldy but does have that billowing dusty look to is then you drop a flake on the ground. I am told that is mold as well. The problem is we have TONS of this stuff. Like a whole barn full. I use it as much in my garden and we throw bales into the pasture to add organic matter but this pile is not going away.

Can I use it as bedding for ewes while their in jugs with their lambs? I was thinking I could break up the bale outside the barn a toss it around a bit to get some of the mold and dust out than pitchfork it in the barn and add some new straw on top.

If thats a bad idea I will scratch it, I was just hoping to come up with more uses for it.

Anyone have any fun or creative ideas for it? We don't have a tractor btw, so giant compost turning is not an option.

Thanks!!



First off, others have cautioned about the health hazards. If it is "dusty" the first thing to do is try and get some of that dust onto some white paper so you can see if there is any color to it, green, gray, black, yellow all indicate mold is what it is.
If the dust is mold, then bedding is out of the question I would think.  If you have any doubts as to if it is mold or not, mist down a flake (out doors), get it nice and damp, let that sit for around 3-5 days and then open up the flake, if the "dusts" was mold spores you will find active, growing mold when you open the flake.
If you don't find mold at that time, then most likely it was just hay dust and you would be able to use if for bedding. The odds are, unfortunately against 25 year old hay not having mold spores but one never really knows until you do the test.

You can still use if for path way cover, mulching trees, strawberries, vegetables, and using as brown composting material. You can use them for water control (making a berm out of them) and even for terrace building should you need either of those.

Redhawk



That is an AMAZING tip! Thank you so much.
 
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Taylor Cleveland wrote:Do any of you turn compost with a tractor? Our neighbor is always driving by with his and I wonder if we couldn’t strike some deal where he would turn t for us every so often. That would be wonderful! Maybe give him a dozen eggs a week if he would turn it for us every other week or so?



I use my bulldozer to compost my manure and hay from my sheep farm, but I do not have to do it very often, maybe 3-4 times per year. The bigger the pile, the less it has to be turned.
 
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-Might be interesting to put it on craigslist to see if it will sell. List it at $1.00 a bale, 50 cents a bale if they take 200 or more, 25 cents a bale if they take 400+.
-I don't know about other countries, but in the U.S. the natural fiber strings are treated with mouse/rat poison so the mice don't eat the strings to loosen the bales so they can nest/eat easier. The plastic strings don't compost. Either way, I don't think its a good idea to leave the strings in any compost.
-One thing to consider when removing all hay from a barn. Are you going to fill the barn again? An unused barn will eventually shake itself apart in the wind if it has no weight in it. The weight of old, stored hay holds a barn together long term. We'd have more barns left in this country if the last farmer to actively use the barn left it filled. Then the barn can better stand the wait to the next guy.
-I have heard its possible to use hay to build a straw bale house. I've heard it's not as good as straw, but is workable. I don't know. I'd ask someone who builds them. If it would work it would be much cheaper than using straw. Advertise it on craigslist as a possible use. Let the buyer decide if they want to use the cheaper hay instead.
-As for making a big pile of hay and letting it compost. My experience is that green hay will heat up and burn if piled. Old hay not so much. I'd just pile it away from anything burnable, just in case, then let nature take its course. It'll eventually rot down to "soil". No need to turn if you have time to wait. If you put the pile in the goat pasture, the goats will love climbing on it. Makes a nice "mountain" for them.
 
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