What is the best way to store my horse’s grains and supplements?
You need to find the best way to combat a few things when it comes to storing horse grains and supplements:
-Temperatures (high and low)
-Rodents and other critters
-Rate at which you use it
Both high and low temperature extremes can spoil your horse’s grains, high temps can lead to mold and mildew, and low temps can cause pellets to break. (Although generally speaking, pellets are less likely to spoil.)
Moisture in the environment is a key factor in causing molds and mildews, and as we know about our moldy tack - it’s “contagious” and not so easy to get rid of. For some ways to check your feeds and grains for freshness, I have an article here for you.
Rodents will always be attracted to food they can easily obtain - spilled bits on the floor, wooden and plastic containers, and open doors invite rodents and bug in. Learn more about rodent control here, and defend your feed room from critters.
It may be tempting to get a year’s worth of grain when it goes on sale, but unless you can use it all in a month, it’s not worth it. There is a shelf life to grains and supplements, and fresh is better. It may seem like a hassle to go to the feed store more often, but your horses will thank you for it.
It’s also important to learn what happens to nutrients when you are storing grain. Temperature, moisture and age are the biggest contributing factors to spoiling grain. For example, vitamins A, D, and E are unstable over time (which is why fresh is better.) Air, light, and even excessive handling also contribute to decreasing nutrient quality. Vitamins B and C are especially sensitive to light.
Here are some tips for making grain storage ideal:
-Your feed room needs to be a horse free and a rodent free zone. You will always have that one horse that knows how to escape and get into the bins. Behind a closed door is best.
-Wooden bins can create a mold problem if the grain is allowed to be loose in the bins. When you run out of grain, you should ideally clean the bins and allow many hours for the wood to totally dry. Or, you can just put your opened bags into the bins and call it a day.
-Thin plastic bins are good, until the critters figure out how to chew into them. I have found the super thick plastic bins to be awesome, they have a screw on lid that's amazing and keeps moisture out!
-Metal bins are ideal for grain storage. Please keep them on pallets above a dirt or concrete floor so moisture from the ground or concrete does not rust them. I simply place my bags into the metal bin, and make sure the lid is snug.
-What if you only have a certain type of wooden bin? (Which, by the way, I adore as they can separate owners, horses, types of grain, etc creating an organized room.) That’s fine! Just keep your grain in the bags inside the bins. Or, if there is room, you can use a metal can in the bin, but that seems a bit redundant. The point is to keep air and critters out, so using the bag your grain came in makes perfect sense, and the bin will keep the bugs and mice out.
Using the bag within another bin is a great way to avoid cleaning out bins!
What works for your feed room?