Organic feed and hay is becoming more and more popular among horse people. Thankfully, as demand for hay that isn’t treated with chemicals increases, it is becoming more plentiful.
However, sourcing organic can sometimes be difficult, especially if you buy your hay from your local feed store. You can ask your local hay maker how they treat their fields, but if you buy from a broker or feed store, often there is no way to know what herbicides or fertilizers are used.
In some cases, a mixed grass hay may have less unwanted additives, since the farmer is not trying to make a perfect monoculture of one particular type of grass. And mixed grass is much more natural than a pure bale of timothy, orchard or coastal Bermuda grass.
In my area of northern Virginia, we are lucky to have some sources of organic hay, some certified and some that will be certified next year. This is exciting news! Tri-County Feeds has brought in large quantities of hay that is organically raised, and will be certified next year (it takes 3 years to get fully certified). They have square bales (huge ones!) and will deliver in a 50 mile radius of Marshall, VA. For those that use round bales, Dave Denton of Stonebridge Farm in Front Royal supplies those (540-974-3655, no website, just good farmers).
If you don’t live in my corner of the world but are still interested in organic hay for your horse, here’s a great source to learn about the USDA’s organic hay standards. If you know the right questions to ask, you’re much more likely to find a local source that aligns with what you’re looking for.