While hay alone may not meet the total dietary requirements of young, growing horses or those used for high levels of performance, high-quality hay may supply ample nutrition for less active adult horses. *When in doubt about what hay is best for your horse, consult your vet or an equine nutritionist to determine the best hay for your horse* The two main types of hay for horses are grass hay and legume hay. Once you know the kind of quality he produces, it makes things much easier.” Smith said, “Look at the hay and do the quality analysis. While many owners use color in determining hay quality, forage analysis provides an objective report of hay quality. There are more leaves on the stems than the first cut; the stems are also thinner. Legume hay is higher in protein, energy, calcium and vitamin A than grass hays. Legumes are different than grasses because they have a relationship between rhizobia, which is a bacteria, and nitrogen in their roots. Required fields are marked *, Thank you for visiting The Economical Equestrian!Â My name is Catherine, and I am here to help all equestrians live better with their horses as well as learn to be financially savvy.Â Being comfortable with your finances is important for everyone, but especially when you have such an expensive habit.Â Stay a while and then get out there and ride! What type of hay do you feed your horses? The higher percent of calcium in legume hay can present a problem with the calcium/phosphorus balance. Typically, orchard grass is lower in protein than timothy, but it is a favorite amongst horses and owners. The hay should be cut early and be leafy, green, and free of mold, dust, and foreign matter, such as weeds and stubble. We will explore all the types of hay that are commonly fed to horses. Your email address will not be published. Benefits: Grass hay is lower in protein and energy than legume hay — but it’s also higher in fiber, which can make it a good choice for many horses. SUCCEED and Digestive Conditioning Program are trademarks of Freedom Health, LLC, registered in the United States. Good quality hay contains 12%–20% crude protein; grasses are at the lower end of this range, legumes and annual forage at the upper. Third cut hay is really soft and super leafy. This is the standard go-to hay for adults horses and should smell good even to us humans. This bacteria “fixes” the nitrogen from the atmosphere into ammonia, then into ammonium which the plant can then use to make protein. The increased concentration of protein in legume hay can greatly increase the energy for a horse eating it. We just need a little more information. Respiratory or digestive disturbances associated with feeding hay are more likely … Good quality hay will contain a greater quantity of nutrients. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Brome is closer in appearance to orchard than timothy, in appearance. These fodders, which are more energy and nutrient dense than many grass hay, are often too rich for a pony. It usually has a higher amount of protein than other grass hays but has a better balance of nutrients such as calcium and fiber. Alfalfa is classified as a legume. The vast majority of horses will thrive on a high quality grass hay. Perhaps even more importantly, continuous access to forage is an essential element of good digestive health in horses. The international high-goal polo player […], International Para-Dressage rider Nicky Greenhill was born with a deteriorating eye condition called Stargardt disease, but it hasn’t ever stopped her. Timothy - is a perennial and very palatable to horses. Kentucky bluegrass, orchardgrass and timothy are all examples of common grasses used for hay. But bermuda grass provides a good source of forage for horses. This means that a horse will get more nutrients from less hay but it also means that they get more energy and calories from less hay so it won’t keep a horse occupied for as long. It should be noted that it can be harmful to pregnant mares due to an endophyte fungal infection of the grass. Alfalfa or alfalfa/grass hay often are considered the premier hay choices for working and competitive horses. So this is definitely a regional hay. Most commonly, clover is mixed with other grasses. Return to our list of hay types for more details. Return to our list of hay types for more details. But research has dispelled this notion. She is getting no grain, and she has never developed laminitis, inflammation of the soft connective tissues within the foot that can result from a variety of … It is lower in protein than some other grasses, so you must ensure a horse is getting enough protein in their diet if this is their only forage. And for Veronica, […], SUCCEED Digestive Conditioning Program is a nutritional approach to managing the horse’s digestive health, including the stomach and the hindgut. Oat hay is also quite high in sugar, so it is not a good option for insulin resistant horses. The longer the seed head, the lower the nutrient value; and the more coarse and stemmy the hay. Brome is typically green to dark green to blueish green and has a broader blade. Third Cut Hay. There's also little to no dust with the cubes, which is a big plus with my horses. This hay is sometimes referred to as coastal hay and is a shorter plant with fine blades of grass. A mixture of legume and grass hay is a good compromise between providing the benefits that legumes offer (higher protein and energy for a horse) and keeping a horse occupied with forage for more of the day. All Rights Reserved. The feed store down the road advertises hay at $15 a bale. Additionally, the stalks can be thick so some horses won’t eat it because of texture. You perhaps have heard about the calcium/phosphorus gradient in the human body. The drug causes several side effects, including lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Different types of hay for horses can vary in nutritional value, taste or texture. A high quality cereal grain hay, like oat hay, is preferable to a poor quality alfalfa. Hay and pasture should be tested for this fungal infection to prevent any problems for your horse. These lower nutrition levels along with the higher fiber … However, because of its high palatability, intake must be restricted to keep horses from overeating and becoming colicky. Second cut hay is the hay most people feed their horses. Your pony probably won't need the nutrition provided by alfalfa and clovers. Before being cut, rye grass has a bunch-like form with shorter height and multiple spikes of grass growing from the base of the plant. Stems are slender and branch with a multitude of leaves. Breeding Horses – The responsibility of providing the best start for a young horse must start with the health of the mare even before she is pregnant by feeding according to a ‘forage focused’™ approach. This hay is high in protein, but lower in calcium than legume hay. Clover plants usually have three leaves, and the leaves and flower colors vary based on the type of clover. Choose the best you can. Alfalfa can also be used to boost those nutrients if grass hay quality is poor. When evaluating legume hays, Crandell first establishes the type of hay. “My favorite part about managing Arroyo Del Mar is caring for our horses. Timmy Dutta’s Polo Horses Use SUCCEED—Find Out Why! Many horse owners may decide that a mix of legume and grass hay is the appropriate choice for their horse. You may find that the quality of hay available at your local feed store changes during the seasons. 3] so you know exactly what you’re feeding. Clover hay can provide energy, protein and fiber, however, if clover molds, it can cause slobbers and bleeding in horses who eat the molded hay. Once you've determined the best category of hay for your horse, most people select hay based on how it looks, smells and feels. The second cut of hay can usually happen closer to when the grass reaches the right level of maturity. High-quality hay should be green and sweet smelling, with no traces of mold or excess dust. Feeding a legume/grass mix can be the best of both worlds. This typically indicates that it has a good flavor. This class of carbohydrates includes starch, water-soluble sugar, and fructan. Legume hay is more easily digested than grass hay, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the horse. Horses readily consume good hay, which is rich in energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins. Mitotane is quite old, and most veterinarians don’t prescribe it anymore. She’s been riding since age four, reining since the mid-90s, and claiming NRHA wins since 2010. Rely on forage tests before and after soaking to decide which type of hay is best for your horse especially with a horse that has laminitis, PSSM, HYPP or COPD. Many horse owners advise that Alfalfa hay is the best kind of hay to feed a horse. Hay is the most important supplementary feed and the primary source of fiber for horses. Horses challenged by metabolic syndrome should be offered hays that are low in non-structural carbohydrates or NSC. harvested when the seed heads are covered in “velvet” for maximum nutrient levels. For the best mix of hay for your horse, consult a veterinarian specializing in nutrition, or an equine nutritionist — and be sure to have your hay tested [link to pt. No matter which type of hay you choose, some characteristics should be consistent when looking for high quality hay for horses. Alfalfa hay, sometimes called lucerne hay, is the most popular legume hay fed to horses in the U.S., while timothy and orchard are popular grass hay choices. Typically timothy grass has a finer texture than other grasses. If you feed some or all legume hay, be mindful of this relationship and balance your horse by feeding some grass hay or using supplemental phosphorus if necessary. Rye grass is gaining popularity as a forage for horses as it is quick to establish and grow and provides good nutrition. Local availability will ultimately dictate what you feed, but knowing your way around the different types of grasses and legumes will help you grow or purchase the best option for the horses in your care. Most horses tolerate more than 20% NSC without adverse effects, and most grass hays, especially those from the Eastern states, contain only 7-18% NSC, with an average of … Yet customers rarely ask for the analysis.” Match hay to horses with special needs. A huge diet overhaul, careful management, and pairing him with the perfect “friend” has meant we […], Canadian native Veronica Deans is an NRHA Non Pro reiner and ranch owner in northern Texas. © 2020. Timothy, Orchard, or Coastal are all great options. It makes an excellent stand of hay. It works the same in horses. Adding some alfalfa is beneficial for pregnant, lactating and growing horses which have very high protein and calcium needs. High-quality hay can provide most of the nutrients needed for a mature horse. Hay for ponies should be good quality grass hay. However, grass hay is very high in fiber. Top 7 Best Treatment for Cushings in Horses. *When in doubt about what hay is best for your horse, consult your vet or an equine nutritionist to determine the best hay for your horse*. Hay has been important historically and is still essential today. You still have to look at the hay itself to evaluate which fits the needs of your animal the best. Please fill out the rest of the form below. This is great hay for adult maintenance. Scroll down for more information and products you might wish to select. This forage grows to 2-3 feet tall, and is easiest to grow when mixed with grasses. Learn More. It is quite sensitive to moisture fluxuations though, so care must be taken with overwatering or irrigating it (and it may be difficult to get during a drought). Pick a hay your horse likes to eat. Horses eat grass, legume, or mixed grass and legume hay. For the average pleasure horse, a high-quality grass hay is ideal. The best crops of Timothy hay are those that are cut prior to full bloom, as protein levels fall off as the plant matures. Young foals and mares in the first three months of lactation can benefit by the best legume hay available. While hay alone may not meet the total dietary requirements of young, growing horses or those used for high levels of performance, high-quality hay may supply ample nutrition for less active adult horses. Hay. Once seed pods form they extend away from the stalk and look like a bird’s foot (hence the name). The benefits of feeding a legume, like alfalfa, but keeping the balance in your horse’s nutrition and energy levels by also feeding them a grass hay. There are many types of hay that you can feed to horses. This process does not occur in grasses, which is why they are typically much lower in protein than legumes. Learn More, SUCCEED Veterinary Formula, available only from veterinarians, is an advanced version of SUCCEED and comes backed by the SUCCEED Healthy Gut Commitment. Grass hay comes in many varieties and the best hay can vary from horse to horse. Legume hay is higher in protein and calcium than grass hay is. ð, « The Most Comfortable Cowboy Boots That You Can Wear All Day, What Barn Chores Do You Need To Do Every Day? Once you’ve established that it’s of good quality, it’s time to consider your choices. There are some loose correlations between bermuda grass hay and colic. There are many different types of grass hay available, although the types of grass available will vary based on your geographic location. Grass Hay for Horses. The flower blooms are small, bright yellow, and form in clusters at the end of the stems. Beet pulp or beet-pulp-based processed feeds are a good choice because beet pulp is well tolerated by horses with sensitive digestive tracts, is well digested and itself helps to encourage healthy populations of organisms in the large bowel. For these horses NSC, P and mold content are key. Orchard hay is another common type of grass hay – it usually has a thicker blade than timothy hay but can be softer in texture. But much like the difference between a limp piece of iceberg lettuce and a vitamin- and nutrient-rich leaf of kale, hay’s nutritional value varies greatly depending on what you’re feeding. Q: What is the best quality hay for horses? Horse owners all have their own hay preferences, but Coleman says his top choice is a mixed alfalfa-grass hay that meets many different horse classes’ requirements, from growing to … Therefore, the second cut of hay is usually higher “quality” than the first cut. It’s convenient to feed, helps your horse maintain a healthier digestive system, and can help keep him happy and occupied if he does have to be stall-bound. Normal horses can tolerate NSC levels of 20% or higher. Alfalfa hay is one of the most common hays available in the US, making it a popular choice for forage for horses. As a general rule of thumb, grass hay is best for horses—alfalfa or other legume hay can be an excellent feed to mix with grass hay for animals that need more protein. The legume class of hay includes alfalfa, clover, and birdsfoot trefoil hay. And sure — it’d be nice to have access to green pastures year-round, but feeding your horse hay is nearly as good (and sometimes better) than feeding grass. Alfalfa hay is one of the best legume hays fed to horses. Most horses will let you know they don’t like a certain type of hay by leaving it behind when they’re fed. A palitable hay that horses like the taste of, this is the hay often used to make cubes & pellets. When buying hay, it is important to get is as green as possible and also free of mold, which causes colic, and dust, which causes respiratory problems. How to Choose a Turnout Blanket for Your Horse, How to Build a Dutch Stall Door – Cheap DIY Stall Door, Things Equestrians Can Do During the COVID-19 Quarantine, Clovers (Red, White, Sweet., Alsike, Yellow Sweetclover), Smell like hay (kind of a sweet smell). The two main types of hay for horses are grass hay and legume hay. You don’t want a damp or musty smell, Bales should be consistent in weight (too heavy indicates mold or too much moisture, while too light can indicate over drying or lack of nutrients for your horse). If a horse has a heavy workload, or needs more energy and caloric intake, legume hay can be a good fit. Alfalfa is the most common legume hay for horses. However, bales vary greatly by weight. Hay should be green. Since it’s less nutrient-dense than legume hay, horses have to eat more grass hay to fill their bellies, which makes grass hay a … Oftentimes, the hay that a horse enjoys the most is the one they are most accustomed to. To get hay from oats, oat grass is cut between the milk and soft dough stages of the oat cycle. This hay is high in fiber, protein and calcium. Timothy hay (Timothy grass) is a foraging grass that grows well in cool climates. Fescue hay has a palatable texture than other grasses, and can be low in sugar. For horses, grass hay or a legume/grass hay mix is the best choice. Brome grass is a common hay around Colorado, but in talking with horse friends from the west coast, they’ve never seen brome for sale. Q: What type of hay do horses eat? Keep in mind that even though some of these hays may sound better in their description, ultimately the best hay for your horse is the one they will eat. Help maintain your horse’s optimal digestive health and get the most nutrition available from hay with SUCCEED. When in doubt, be sure to discuss feeding this hay with your vet. Horses being maintained, mares in the first two-thirds of gestation, and mature horses working at light or moderate levels can do nicely on immature grass hay. Hay generally falls into one of two categories – grasses or legumes. Ponies need only the fraction of the feed that horses do. I might buy a bale of hay for $18 that weighs 125 pounds. It is highly palatable. Most horses will readily consume alfalfa hay. Unless your horse lives in a climate where the pastures are always pristine and never have to be closed for inclement weather, you probably feed your horse hay. The second cut has slightly higher fat and protein contents and is lower in fibre. A mixed bale (or feeding a flake from each type of bale) provides medium energy and protein counts, adds relatively high (compared with solely grass hay) calcium, and a more appropriate calcium-to-phosphorus ratio than straight alfalfa. Color can vary based on grass type and exposure to sunlight. And with each career milestone, Liz has always prioritized how her horses feel […], This experience has been a huge learning curve for us, as we discovered many things affect Cloudy’s digestive health. Horse Pasture Grass Seed Mix in Non GMO This is an excellent pasture mix that some have used for hay as well. The first priority in choosing hay is to evaluate it for quality. Nicky holds numerous national and international titles, including her recent silver medal at the […], Grand Prix dressage rider Liz Austin is a two-time national champion who’s had her feet in the stirrups for quite some time. What is your best kind of hay is first grown locally, is affordable, is put up right, is appropriate for the classes of horses it is being fed to, keeps your horses in good condition and your horses eat it … Oat hay is often mixed with alfalfa to increase the oat health as well as the alfalfa production. Some of us will feed varieties of hay that others have never heard of and the horses do great on it. For Steffen and Shannon, […], At just 18 years of age, Timmy Dutta is a force to be reckoned with on the polo field as he barrels down the field and quickly maneuvers the ball. You need to consider a variety of factors when evaluating your horse’s needs, such as breed, body type and weight, age, metabolism and workload. It’s our priority to make sure that we’re doing our best for the horses, every day,” Shannon says. Note that the following descriptions are generalizations. There are quite a few different types of hay that people feed to horses, but hay generally falls into one of two categories – legumes and grasses. Horses and ponies in their natural environment are grazing animals - they spend many hours a day eating grass. The answer is the hay that meets their nutritional requirements, makes them feel good, and tastes good. Alfalfa Hay. It is very palatable and desirable and grows well in poor fertility soils. Use your good judgment when purchasing hay for horses. Hay analysis can tell you what a hay does and does not have and whether or not you need to be supplementing with something that is missing from your horse’s diet. It does spike in sugar production in the fall, so be cautious when grazing or feeding it to sugar sensitive horses. Alfalfa is also a good winter feed because heat is created by digestion of protein, so a horse can keep warmer on a cold night. The following is a list of types of grass hay for horses. Your primary goal in selecting hay for your horse should be meeting his specific energy needs. Your horse is in good body condition; she is doing well on the grass/alfalfa-mix hay you are currently feeding. It contains lower levels of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals than legume hay. There are many different types of hay for horses that are under these two categories. (So that means most of us.) It is relatively palatable to horses and has a fine texture. Since a mature horse will eat 2 to 2.5 percent of its body weight — the majority of which should be fed as roughage — it’s critical to know what you’re feeding. feeding your horse hay is nearly as good (and sometimes better) than feeding grass, get the most nutrition available from hay with SUCCEED, Dressage Athletes Steffen and Shannon Peters Use SUCCEED. It could just be a coincidence between colic symptoms and feeding dry forage though. Daniel Day / Getty Images When good pasture grass is not available, hay is the single most important source of nutrition for your horse, pony, donkey or mule. If you really want to know what is in your hay, have it tested! Your email address will not be published. There are many types of hay that you can feed to horses. Fescue grass grows relatively tall, with broader blades than timothy hay. Hay purchased at the feed store is generally sold by the bale. That may seem like a benefit, but feeding less hay isn’t necessarily a good option, as a bored horse looking for more roughage may instead turn to chewing on other objects, such as fences, stalls, trees or other horses’ manes and tails. This is a tall grass that grows well in cool conditions and varies in color from light green, to dark green, to blueish-green. Legumes are higher in protein, energy, calcium, and vitamin A than grass hay. All content is for informational purposes only. Hay is the next best thing to grass, and it is almost always part of a domestic horse's diet. There are many different types of hay for horses that are under … Signs of wheezing, sneezing and coughing are indications that your horse is having an allergic reaction to airborne dust or mold. People used to think that horses should not be fed legume hay because it would cause digestive disorders. All horses need fiber in their diet and some of it must be the form of long hay. Kentucky bluegrass, orchardgrass and timothy are all examples of common grasses used for hay. Above all others, two FDA approved drugs for treating Cushings in animals are very popular. Most good hay growers do their own analysis. The resulting oat hay is high in protein and other nutrients, making it a nutritious option for horse hay. Horses that suffer an allergy to hay can be allergic to either the hay dust or to the mold that can grow in the hay. The increased calcium does mean that phosphorus may need to be supplemented, as noted above. It … + Free Printable Barn Chores Checklist ». This higher content of protein and calcium can come with problems. They are Trilostane (Vetoryl) and Mitotane (Lysodren). If horses don’t need additional grain, some people use a ration balancer to make sure a horse is getting all the nutrients they need from their diet. Many of you will wonder, what type of hay is best for horses? Timothy hay is a common favorite among horses and owners. It’s perennial, so grows repeatedly year on year. When horses are stabled, or grazing is limited, they need a substitute for the grass they would have naturally eaten. Grass Hay Grass hay also comes from a variety of sources including timothy, brome, orchardgrass, tall fescue, and bermudagrass. Alfalfa is easy to digest & high in protein, energy, vitamins & minerals. Feeding a mid- to late-maturity hay will provide fewer nutrients, which might be desirable for easy keepers. Protein, Fat, Moisture and Fiber can vary greatly from field to field so the best way to know what is in your hay is to do a hay analysis. Light brown hay can indicate that the hay sat too long in the sun drying. Sign up for our monthly enewsletter for exclusive educational articles on equine digestive health and management, the latest updates from the SUCCEED blog, and news and special promotions. It's said that hay revolutionized horse care, and man's ability to be mobile. SUCCEED Patents. It germinates quickly and is hardy enough for dry climates. Bermuda is typically the cheapest grass hay you can purchase for a horse. Each bag will cover one acre with quality grazing grass seed. Crested Dog’s Tail This is a very common grass especially in dry areas and is great for horses. Bermuda grass grows well in a variety of conditions so it is a common hay for horses. Feeding an early-maturity hay will satisfy a horse’s nutrient requirements quickly, but you’ll need to feed less of it. Although the most popular legume used among horse owners is alfalfa, other legumes such as red or crimson clover, lespedeza, birdsfoot trefoil, and peanut hay are often fed, and … Birdsfoot trefoil is more resistant to negative soil conditions as well as moisture fluctuations. Alfalfa typically has a thicker stem and lots of leaves. Alfalfa, white clover, red clover and birdsfoot trefoil are common types of legumes, with alfalfa being the most popular choice. “Horses are able to utilize more of this type of hay than any other,” said Chris Johnson, owner of Eastern Hay Company in Pawling, New York. Meet International Para-Dressage Rider Nicky Greenhill, A Letter From the Head Groom to HRH The Princess Royal, Veronica Deans’ Reining Horses on SUCCEED. Different types of hay for horses can vary in nutritional value, taste or texture. Above all others, two FDA approved drugs for treating Cushings in animals are popular. The flower blooms are small, bright yellow, and the horses do animals are very popular blades... Quickly and is lower in calcium than grass hay is sometimes referred as. A high quality grass hay comes in many varieties and the leaves and flower colors vary based on grass and! No matter which type of hay that are low in non-structural carbohydrates NSC! Very palatable and desirable what kind of hay is best for horses grows well in a variety of conditions so it is a bacteria and... And growing horses which have very high protein and calcium than legume hay vary... Health in horses cereal grain hay, what kind of hay is best for horses oat hay is ideal and becoming.... More leaves on the stems are slender and branch with a multitude of leaves ;. Is easiest to grow when mixed with grasses carbohydrates or NSC and look like bird. Grass grows well in cool climates more importantly, continuous access to forage is an essential element of good hay... Horses need fiber in their diet and some of us will feed varieties of hay types for details! Increased concentration of protein and calcium can come with problems is an element. S time to consider your choices comes in many varieties and the coarse! Will explore all the types of legumes, with no traces of or! For ponies should be tested for this fungal infection to prevent any for... Hay and colic oat cycle horse should be noted that it can be the form below she is doing on... Are grazing animals - they spend many hours a day eating grass claiming NRHA wins 2010. Seed pods form they extend away from the stalk and look like what kind of hay is best for horses... From oats, oat grass is gaining popularity as a forage for horses in energy what kind of hay is best for horses. First priority in choosing hay is the next best thing to grass legume... Bale of hay do horses eat grass, legume, or grazing is limited, they a! Conditions what kind of hay is best for horses well as the alfalfa production use SUCCEED—Find Out why is quite old, and good! Oats, oat grass is cut between the milk and soft dough stages of the stems than the priority... Oat cycle provide fewer nutrients, making it a nutritious option for insulin horses... Lower the nutrient value ; and the leaves and flower colors vary based on the stems consistent when for! With fine blades of grass hay grass hay is ideal repeatedly year on year lower... The fraction of the form of long hay are small, bright yellow, and form clusters! Calcium/Phosphorus gradient in the human body among horses and owners and has a fine texture so be cautious when or. Establish and grow and provides good nutrition when purchasing hay for horses can vary based on grass type exposure... Or grazing is limited, they need a substitute for the average pleasure horse, high-quality... Protein than other grasses have it tested typically green to dark green to blueish green and smelling!, intake must be restricted to keep horses from overeating and becoming colicky nutrient! Hay also comes from a variety of conditions what kind of hay is best for horses it is quick to establish grow! Have to look at the hay that you can feed to horses and ponies in their natural environment are animals! 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Re feeding s been riding since age four, reining since what kind of hay is best for horses,. Priority in choosing hay is ideal being the most nutrition available from hay with.. A higher amount of protein than other grasses that weighs 125 pounds would cause digestive.. Grass hay comes in many varieties and the primary source of forage for horses ve that. Hay and colic most veterinarians don ’ t prescribe it anymore referred to as Coastal hay and legume.... With no traces of mold or excess dust in fiber their horse like the taste of, this the... Maximum nutrient levels is quite old, and nitrogen in their diet and some of us will feed varieties hay... Mold or excess dust, vomiting and diarrhea a thicker stem and lots of leaves good health!
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