Timothy hay is a premium feed used for both pleasure horses and thoroughbred race horses. The quality of Timothy hay can vary from one supplier to the next and from one geographic area to the next. The quality is also dependent upon the time of harvest and climate factors in a given location during that growing year. Make sure that you know what to look for when you are selecting your hay.
Hay can be purchased in square bales or in large round bales. Each supplier may have different bale size offerings, so be sure to look for the type and size of of bale that best fits your needs. Our square bales are 14"x18"x36-38".
Timothy hay is susceptible to sun bleaching, which can reduce the nutritional value. Ideally, the hay should be green in color. Some sun-bleaching on the outside of the bales is acceptable, but the inner sections should be very green in color with lots of fine stems and leaves. Rained-on hay or hay that has been harvested while too wet from rain may be tan in color.
Timothy hay is commonly grown with alfalfa, natural meadow grasses and/or clovers. At the Esty Ranch, our Timothy is grown with a mix of natural, high-mountain meadow grasses and clover.
There should not be any mold or excessive dust. The presence of mold can be determined by smell. Fresh hay will have a strong hay smell. Moldy hay can produce strange odors. The hay should be clean-looking and not contain excessive dust.
Visible seed heads and flowers are a sign that the Timothy hay was harvested at the best time in the growth cycle. Harvests are subject to weather conditions, so it is not always possible to harvest Timothy hay are the ideal time. Rainfall and other weather conditions can sometimes delay the harvest past the peak point in the season.
A visual inspection of samples should find no or very few weeds or insects. While it is very hard to eradicate all weeds from hay fields, a visual inspection should not result in the discovery of noticeable quantities of weeds. Be careful not to confuse weeds with beneficial enhancements, such as alfalfa, natural grasses and clovers.
Overly coarse hay may be an indication that it was harvested later in the growth cycle. Harvest times cannot always be controlled due to the unpredictability of rain. However, when Timothy is harvested at the ideal time it will contain younger, more tender stems and leaves.