To horse owners, finding good horse hay locally is like finding a gold mine. Quality hay the most vital part of the horse’s diet, and sourcing good-quality hay is key to keeping your animals healthy and in peak condition. Finding a good source of local hay can be challenging, but once you locate a reliable source, stick with them, said Erin Zaorski who owns Bright Star Farm in Layton, New Jersey.
Zaorski owns, breeds and boards a variety of breeds of horses who all eat different types of hay. She works with three different suppliers to meet her horses' needs. One supplies alfalfa, which goes to the broodmares, babies and horses in training that need more protein than grass hay can offer. Another supplier provides grass hay, and the third produces the round bales she gives to her horses on turnout.
“The round bales all get a hay hut and net to assure they are always dry and not wasted,” she said. “It’s more economical and saves me time.”
Finding a reliable source—especially three sources—can be tricky. When it comes to sourcing hay locally, Zaorski recommended talking with other horse people in the area. Ask where they buy their hay and ask about the quality. This feedback narrows down the options. When you’re trying someone new, don’t hesitate to inspect the hay before buying.
“I always buy one to two bales first to make sure my horses will eat the hay before I buy 1,000-plus bales,” she said.
Whether you need 100 or 1,000 bales, you need hay every year. Knowing you can get the same quality from the same place every year takes the stress out of that annual purchase. Once you find a supplier you like, establish and maintain a relationship with that person.
“If you are a good customer, the supplier will always make sure you’re taken care of,” she said.