How can I tell if my horse’s grain is OK to feed?

Just as you don’t want to eat food that’s rancid, filled with bugs, or even “hairy”, your horse won’t want to eat it either!  Keeping your horse’s grains and pellets fresh starts at the store, and ends at your horse’s dinner plate.  Paying attention to a few basic things along the way will help guarantee that your horse’s meals are as fresh as possible. 


Don't buy too much at a time!  


So when you are at the feed store - be sure to visit the area that bags are stored in.  The mountains of feed bags should be out of the sun, off the ground (pallets are a common way to make this happen) and protected from rain.  Your feed store should also follow the “first in, first out” rule of inventory, otherwise the bottom of the pile remains the longest.  Someone will eventually buy it, and who knows how long it’s been there!  Try and thoroughly inspect all bags for tears, holes, wet spots, semi-opened tops, the works.  I also like to buy from feed stores that will accept horse feed back with no questions, even if the bag is opened.



This feed store keeps their bags covered, and on pallets.   


When you are buying horse feed, try to limit your supplies to a 30 to 60 day supply.  You can also check for expiration dates (if your manufacturer includes them) so you can feed them in a logical order.  If there are no expiration dates, you can use the lot number and a phone call to the manufacturer to find out how old the feed is.  


Storing your grains and pellets is the next step in the freshness process.  Keep rodents, air, dust, weather, and sun out, and you are good to go.  I like to keep my grains in their bags inside of a larger sealed container.  This allows me to store more than one type of horse feed per bin, and I never need to clean out the larger bins.  More ideas on this fascinating topic can be found here!


Keep lids secure, and use sturdy containers like the Vittle Vault pictured above.  You can also use regular metal trash cans, although the lids sometimes like to get warped.  


Before you feed your grains and pellets, it’s time for a quick inspection.  You can easily look for bugs by looking for movement.  You may also notice critters crawling up the walls of your bag or container.  Also look for weird or fuzzy colors - white, blue and green are common mold colors.  You may also notice a funny smell…  In pelleted feed, you may notice that the pellets are starting to flake, get dusty or generally fall apart.  All are indications to return or toss that bag!  


Use your eyes and your nose to check for freshness before you feed!


Have you had any experiences with icky horse feed?