Hay Storage for Small Pets: How to Store Hay at Home

Written by Kellie Hayden

March 18, 2024🞄

Storing your pet’s hay properly is a key aspect of maintaining the hay’s freshness and nutrition. If hay is stored correctly, it will retain its nutritional content and taste for at least 24 months. Some nutrients like protein and fiber, and some minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, can remain indefinitely in hay when its properly stored!

Over the years, many customers have asked us about how they can ensure the hay they have purchased keeps well. To better assist our customers in understanding hay storage, we cover the following topics in this blog post:

  • The importance of proper hay storage and environmental factors to consider
  • Tips for resealing our hand-sorted hay packaging
  • The importance of keeping your hay’s original packaging
  • An approved alternative method to store hay

White chinchilla eating Oxbow Prime Cut Hay Soft and Lush in a home setting

The Importance of Proper Hay Storage

Improper storage of hay can result in mold, loss of nutritional value (such as vitamins), and reduced palatability. These factors can quickly lead to hay that your little one won’t eat, leading to additional expenses for your household.

When storing your pet’s hay, carefully consider the following environmental factors:

  • Temperature: Hay should be stored in a temperature-controlled environment where fluctuations in heat or cold are limited.
  • Humidity: Warm, damp environments may promote mold growth on hay. Store hay in areas where humidity can be kept to a minimum.
  • Airflow: It’s vital when storing hay that it’s able to “breathe,” especially if the climate you live in is naturally humid at any point in the year. Proper airflow is a major factor that limits the chances of mold or bacterial growth. If hay does not have proper ventilation, this natural product can quickly fall victim to harmful molds or bacteria that will make the hay unsafe for your pet to eat.
  • Sunlight: Hay should be kept out of direct sunlight. While some color fading naturally occurs in hay as it ages, keeping hay away from direct sunlight will help prevent hay’s natural green color from “bleaching” to a shade of yellow. That being said, if bleaching does occur, this only affects the aesthetics and does not affect the nutritional value of your hay.

Pet Parent Tip: Did you know that there is some level of natural variability that occurs from one bag of hay to another? Check out our blog on hay variability for more information.

 

Young white rabbit eating Oxbow hay in a home setting

Tips for Resealing Oxbow’s Hay Packaging

Oxbow’s bagged hay comes in packaging that is self-storing as long as it’s kept in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight. From the small holes in the package that allow for proper ventilation, to a limited number of product windows that limit sun bleaching, our hay bags are specifically designed to keep your pet’s hay fresh, nutritious, and safe to consume.

Because our packaging is carefully designed to assist in proper hay storage, we highly recommend keeping and storing hay in the original packaging. Aside from the convenience of self-storing packaging, the information on the package is vital to have readily available should you need to reach out to our customer care team with questions or concerns.

If you choose to store your hay in its original resealable bag, the below tips for resealing the packaging may be helpful:

1. Press remaining hay into the package

2. Grab the package just below the zipper

3. Pull the edges tightly outward

4. Fold the top forward and press down to remove air from the package

5. Seal the zipper top of the package

6. With the hay compressed, the zipper will seal easier

How to Seal Oxbow Hay Bags Step 1 Press remaining hay into package Step 2 Grab the packaged just below the zipper Step 3 Pull the edges tightly outward Step 4 Fold the top forward and press down to remove air from the package Step 5 Seal the zipper top of the package With the hay compressed, the zipper will seal easier

Please: Keep the Original Packaging!

If you decide to store your hay in a container different from the original packaging, please keep the original packaging stored somewhere until the hay has been consumed. Some pet parents, in response to this request, understandably ask: why?

The information printed on the bag is extremely helpful to our team should any concerns or questions arise with your hay purchase. Having documented information about the packaging size, hay type, lot number, and more is crucial for our customer care team to assist you and other customers with post-purchase concerns.

The information and education on the original packaging can also be a valuable and convenient resource to refer to again and again when caring for your small herbivore.

An Alternative Method for Hay Storage

When it comes to physical or mobility limitations, we understand that the resealable bag our hand-sorted hays come in may not be ideal for everyone’s needs.

Pet parents who need to store hay outside of the original packaging may find that a large plastic Rubbermaid (or similar) tub fits their accessibility requirements. If you decide to go this route, please make sure to follow these three key steps:

    • Containers should have “breather holes” to allow for airflow. Using a hand drill with a drill bit to create holes may be the most efficient method to achieve good ventilation (this might be a 2-person job to accomplish safely!).
    • Always keep the original packaging somewhere until your pet has consumed all the hay from the package.
    • Carefully monitor your pet’s hay once you begin using this alternative storage method. Before offering hay to your pet, perform a visual check and smell check to ensure that the hay has not developed mold. If you find that the stored hay has gone bad, stop feeding this hay to your pet immediately and dispose of it. Your storage method should be cleaned and re-evaluated following the environmental factors listed above.

If you have additional questions about hay storage, please feel free to reach out to our customer care team!