During the summer and fall, I typically the most requests for certified weed-free hay. This mainly comes from hunters or horse enthusiasts who take their horses up into the mountains regularly. Many of my customers who buy non-certified hay ask me why people buy it when my regular hay looks just as good. Before I answer that question, I want to jump into what certified hay is.
Certified weed-free hay means that an inspector from the Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food has come to the field prior to harvesting, walked around the entire field, and confirmed that no noxious weeds are present. This means that no full-grown weeds, no weed seeds, or weeds that could cause new growth onto the field. The state of Utah has a list of what they consider to be noxious weeds here.
Now back to the original question - why people even buy certified weed-free alfalfa. The reason is because if you take your horses into the mountains, you must have certified weed-free hay because the state of Utah doesn’t want any noxious weeds spreading into the wild. If you’re caught using non-certified hay, you could face a fine of up to $500. That’s why most spend a few more dollars to get certified hay.
I've also known people with champion horses who spend the extra money just so they know their horses are getting the best. With customers like these I typically discount the hay a little because they're purchasing in large quantities.
Many farmers can say they have no weeds in their fields but the reality is, it isn't truly weed free unless it's certified weed free.