THE AUDACITY! HOW DARE YOU FEED US THIS HAY… BLECH. Sigh. Is the hay bad: or are my horses spoiled?

My grower lost her last harvest of hay due to Army Worms.  (You can read that post about Army Worms here.)

That last harvest of hay was my winter supply of hay… considering my loss was far less significant than her loss, I am not griping…

But, I did have to go get other hay – fast – because I was down to my last bale.

So, I bought 10 bales of Orchard Grass from a quality hay seller in the area.

$19.95 a bale (Y-I-K-E-S!).  Smells heavenly.  Looks great!

The  horses hate it.

Wrigley:  What is this?!!?!  I cannot eat this... this... drivel!

Wrigley: What is this?!!?! I cannot eat this… this… drivel!


I’ve learned from experience that often, the horses mistrust or don’t like new hay… They push it around, step on it, poop on it and generally let me know in no uncertain terms that I’ve failed.

Then they plead with me to give them something else.

I don’t give in – mainly because I usually don’t have anything else…

And the next morning, all the hay is gone, along with their bravado and curled lips.

They eat it enough and they get used to the new hay.

‘Nuff said.

But other times, when I bring in new hay, they dig right in.


So this time…

Is it them – or the hay?

Our last batch of hay was Brome and Timothy.  I know they loved that.  But Orchard is tasty, too, right?  In fact, Orchard is slightly more rich than Brome/Timothy.  You’d think they’d gobble it.

Well, since I don’t have a lab on the premises to test the hay today, I have no idea.  I don’t see any mold or dust.  It smells fine, to my human nose…  And, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t eat it if it was truly bad for them.  (None of them are starving, believe me.)


So, I looked up Brome Hay… (linked here)

Maybe Brome Hay is like candy, or maybe it just tastes better…?

Hay is the most important dietary component for horses and ponies.  Brohme hay, commonly spelled as Brome hay, is very palatable to horses and useful for sedentary horses.   Waiting lists for Brohme/Brome hays are not uncommon as it is general practice for many buyers to purchase ahead of harvest.

Brohme or Brome hay best suits older horses and lightly worked horses, horses kept in stalls and dry lots, and horses who benefit from slow, all-day feeding.  

A common North American grass, Brohme hay and Brome hay for horses features plentiful basal leaves and few stems.  The hay is a pioneering root-and-seed grass that beats out weeds and repels blister beetles.  It has a high leaf-to-stem ratio. 

Large fluffy seeds make Brome difficult to plant but it readily grows on well-drained soils.  When the stem is tender and the flower is in the boot stage, Brohme/Brome hay is usually harvested in full leaf.  Brohme hay bales into compact bales that weigh about 20 pounds more than alfalfa bales. 

Common varieties include Smooth Brome grass and Meadow Brome, which mixes well with alfalfa in pastures.  Smooth Brome grass is dark brown-greenhay.  Its grass grows tall with soft leafy stems.  Meadow Brome cures into soft medium-green leafy hay.  It mixes well with alfalfa in pastures so some baled varieties include alfalfa.

Horses prefer Brohme grass over prairie grass.  However, if not restricted, horses ingest too many nutrients or calories if allowed unlimited access to richer grasses such as orchard grass or alfalfa.  That is the beauty of the Brohme hay, which allows them plenty of nutrition.

The cost of Brohme is similar to alfalfa when nutrient values are compared.  Brohme hay offers the additional fiber that less-active horses need for chewing and weight management.

Hmmmm, it sounds pretty good.

But I’ve never had issues with Orchard grass in the past.

I’m stumped.  I decided to observe the horses – field reporting, as it were.


So tonight I went around and chatted with my horses regarding the hay.

The ponies and Norma were devastated.  Eating is their most favorite thing and they were definitely upset.  In fact, Dodger wouldn’t even eat.  He walked away from me.

Slick implored me and Norma pleaded.

Hmmmmm. I wonder if their hay will be gone in the morning.  Or, if I will hear them banging on their PortaGrazers in the wee hours…

(I’m glad Hubby is out of town tonight because he calls it the “Drum circle” when they all start kicking their Portagrazers…)

Slick is begging me.  Norma is pleading.  Dodger has walked away.

Slick is begging me. Norma is pleading. Dodger has walked away.

Wrigley and BG were in shock.  They kept going back and forth between their piles, trying to make sense of it.

Wrigley is shocked and keeps trying BG's pile to see if it is any better... She is pushing hers around - even under the fence!

Wrigley is shocked and keeps trying BG’s pile to see if it is any better… She is pushing hers around – even under the fence!

Finn pushed his all around, looking for the seeds.  There were none.

He was willing to eat it as he is polite… but he did tell me that it wasn’t his favorite meal.


Finn, always the gentleman, told  me that it wasn't  his fav, but he'd still eat it...

Finn, always the gentleman, told me that it wasn’t his fav, but he’d still eat it…

Sam simply refused to eat when I was watching.  She walked away.  But, I did note that when I went around the corner, she came back to eat.

The girl is definitely working me…

Sam pushed it around, pooped on it and walked away.  (But then came back and ate it when I wasn't looking.)

Sam pushed it around, pooped on it and walked away. (But then came back and ate it when I wasn’t looking.)

Gwen was eating but grousing as she did.  This girl won’t miss a meal, even if she doesn’t like it.

Gwen kept pushing it around, hoping to find the good bits... Gwen will never miss a meal, however, she wasn't too happy.

Gwen kept pushing it around, hoping to find the good bits… Gwen will never miss a meal, however, she wasn’t too happy.


Mama Tess has been around the longest (23 yrs) and will not ever eat bad hay.  I trust her judgement.

And even though she is not allowed dry hay, I gave her a handful, just to see if she would sniff it and refuse it.

She didn’t.

She grabbed it from my hand so fast I thought I would lose my finger!  The tuft fell to the floor and she was on it like flies on honey!


Mama Tess was voracious for the hay!  She hasn't had dry hay for a while and she wanted it - badly!!  Gobble Gobble!


I really have no conclusion until a few days from now.  But, I think the horses simply prefer the hay they have been eating for several months.

I’m guessing the hay will be gone in the morning.

And, if it isn’t… well, then I will go back to my seller and take it up with him.  ;)


Little Ayasha ("Little One"), still a suckling...  OUR OCTOBER BUCKET FUND IS THE NAVAJO 12!  Click to read all about them!

Little Ayasha (“Little One”), still a suckling… OUR OCTOBER BUCKET FUND IS THE NAVAJO 12! Click to read all about them!

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6 comments have been posted...

  1. DeAnna

    My horses also would not eat beautiful bales of soft, green, fragrant orchard grass. They kicked it all over their stall and peed on all of it. This was BOTH of my normally non-picky eaters. It is weird. Maybe it is kind of “sharp-edged” or something. I ended up giving it all away to our barn manager and she fed it to other horses, who I assume ate it (although I never really asked.)

  2. Linda N

    I was searching for horses that would not eat hay and came across your web site. I, too, use Portagrazers and have found that if there is hay they don’t like it’s difficult for them to pick through it using the PG. So we take it out and put it into a rack in a pasture feeder so they can pick through it more easily…and they still won’t eat it! We left some out there for three days. It’s orchard grass. soft, green, smells great. The thing is, we’d been feeding them orchard grass from a different supplier. Makes me wonder if there’s something in the hay I can’t smell. Hope you have had better luck than we have…

  3. Leigh Ann

    OMG! I cannot believe the price of hay in your area. I’m in KY and we purchased 825lb square bales (3’x3’x8′) of alph/timothy/orchard/clover mix $60 each!

  4. Mariette

    Will teff bales give your horse more energy like will he want to buck more?

  5. Karen Cooper

    Yup,. they just didn’t want to change hay. My horse will not eat bad hay either. He normally gets 2nd cut Timothy /Alfalfa but if there is hidden mold in the center of the flake he knows it when I don’t and won’t eat it all. If I pull the flake apart I then find the mold and discard it all. BUT he will act the same as your horses when I feed him 1st cut T&A because it doesn’t have as much alfalfa in it so he gets snooty about eating it. But yes,.. when I walk away and look later he will be grudging eating it. They are so funny! :-)

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