To properly evaluate hay quality with the naked eye, open up several bales. Generally we look at the outside of a hay bale but when it comes to hay, knowing what’s on the inside is what counts the most.
Hay should be leafy, fine stemmed, and green. It should be soft to the touch and without seeding. Look for signs of bug infestation; especially blister beetles in alfalfa. If a bale is heavy for its size or warm to the touch do not accept it. It probably contains too much water which can lead to mold or spontaneous combustion.
Hay loses nutritional value over time. Be sure to purchase and feed hay within one year of harvest. If you are purchasing a large quantity of hay consider having it tested for nutritional value prior to purchase or look for a hay suppler who has already had this done.