Your horses are the best indicators of good hay. If they turn their backs on the sweet feed and walk over to eat their hay, you know you've got some excellent hay.
You'll find guidelines below for good, medium, and poor quality hay provided by the University of Maryland Cooperative Extentsion.
Hay Evaluation GuidelinesThe score sheet below is a guideline for evaluating hay. The sheet indicates the amount of importance
to place upon each quality factor. Note that maturity, at 30 points, is the most important factor.
Leafiness, color, and odor and condition each receive a possible 20 points. Foreign material has a
possible 10 points.
Sample Score Sheet
Alfalfa should be cut in the late bud or early bloom stage,
clovers at 20 percent bloom. Most grasses should be
cut in the boot to early heading stage. These stages of
maturity score highest (25 to 30 points). Alfalfa and clover
cut at full bloom and grasses cut between late heading
and full bloom score low (1 to 10 points) because
they have lower feed value.
Hay with a high ratio of leaves to stems and a substantial
portion of the leaves attached to stems scores high
(5 to 20 points). Stemmy hay and hay with shattered
leaves score low (0 to 5 points).
Hay with a bright green color scores high (15 to 20
points). Golden yellow to yellow hays score 5 to 15
points. Dark brown or black hays score 0 to 5 points.
Odor and Condition
Smell of new mown hay scores high (15 to 20 points).
Hays with musty or other off-odors score 5 to 15 points.
Moldy or unusually dusty hays score very low (0 to 5
Hay with noninjurious foreign material should receive a
lower score than that without. Hay with injurious foreign
material should not be fed to animals.
TOTAL 100 ______
Hope this helps. If you have further questions, email me.