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what kind of hay is best 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. The following is a list of types of grass hay for horses. These lower nutrition levels along with the higher fiber … Good quality hay contains 12%–20% crude protein; grasses are at the lower end of this range, legumes and annual forage at the upper. Horses readily consume good hay, which is rich in energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins. All horses need fiber in their diet and some of it must be the form of long 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. A high quality cereal grain hay, like oat hay, is preferable to a poor quality alfalfa. Choose the best you can. The higher percent of calcium in legume hay can present a problem with the calcium/phosphorus balance. And for Veronica, […], SUCCEED Digestive Conditioning Program is a nutritional approach to managing the horse’s digestive health, including the stomach and the hindgut. 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. When in doubt, be sure to discuss feeding this hay with your vet. Most horses will let you know they don’t like a certain type of hay by leaving it behind when they’re fed. Adding some alfalfa is beneficial for pregnant, lactating and growing horses which have very high protein and calcium needs. Your pony probably won't need the nutrition provided by alfalfa and clovers. 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. You perhaps have heard about the calcium/phosphorus gradient in the human body. Rye grass is gaining popularity as a forage for horses as it is quick to establish and grow and provides good nutrition. 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). All content is for informational purposes only. These fodders, which are more energy and nutrient dense than many grass hay, are often too rich for a pony. Q: What type of hay do horses eat? This hay is high in fiber, protein and calcium. Ponies need only the fraction of the feed that horses do. The best crops of Timothy hay are those that are cut prior to full bloom, as protein levels fall off as the plant matures. Kentucky bluegrass, orchardgrass and timothy are all examples of common grasses used for hay. There are more leaves on the stems than the first cut; the stems are also thinner. Bermuda grass grows well in a variety of conditions so it is a common hay for horses. Legumes are higher in protein, energy, calcium, and vitamin A than grass hay. Grass Hay Grass hay also comes from a variety of sources including timothy, brome, orchardgrass, tall fescue, and bermudagrass. 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. 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 … 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. There are many types of hay that you can feed to horses. Typically, orchard grass is lower in protein than timothy, but it is a favorite amongst horses and owners. 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. She’s been riding since age four, reining since the mid-90s, and claiming NRHA wins since 2010. Grass Hay for Horses. Crested Dog’s Tail This is a very common grass especially in dry areas and is great for horses. Use your good judgment when purchasing hay for horses. Many horse owners advise that Alfalfa hay is the best kind of hay to feed a horse. 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 … 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. It is relatively palatable to horses and has a fine texture. Horses eat grass, legume, or mixed grass and legume hay. Young foals and mares in the first three months of lactation can benefit by the best legume hay available. Please fill out the rest of the form below. 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 … 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 … We will explore all the types of hay that are commonly fed to horses. 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. Hay is the most important supplementary feed and the primary source of fiber for horses. + Free Printable Barn Chores Checklist ». 3] so you know exactly what you’re feeding. Note that the following descriptions are generalizations. Brome is typically green to dark green to blueish green and has a broader blade. Horse Pasture Grass Seed Mix in Non GMO This is an excellent pasture mix that some have used for hay as well. The hay should be cut early and be leafy, green, and free of mold, dust, and foreign matter, such as weeds and stubble. Respiratory or digestive disturbances associated with feeding hay are more likely … 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. Timmy Dutta’s Polo Horses Use SUCCEED—Find Out Why! 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. 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. 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. It’s perennial, so grows repeatedly year on year. Grass hay comes in many varieties and the best hay can vary from horse to horse. Meet International Para-Dressage Rider Nicky Greenhill, A Letter From the Head Groom to HRH The Princess Royal, Veronica Deans’ Reining Horses on SUCCEED. The resulting oat hay is high in protein and other nutrients, making it a nutritious option for horse 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. Horses and ponies in their natural environment are grazing animals - they spend many hours a day eating grass. Once you’ve established that it’s of good quality, it’s time to consider your choices. Feeding a mid- to late-maturity hay will provide fewer nutrients, which might be desirable for easy keepers. Timothy, Orchard, or Coastal are all great options. 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. Legume hay is higher in protein and calcium than grass hay is. For the average pleasure horse, a high-quality grass hay is ideal. Yet customers rarely ask for the analysis.” Match hay to horses with special needs. Your primary goal in selecting hay for your horse should be meeting his specific energy needs. When horses are stabled, or grazing is limited, they need a substitute for the grass they would have naturally eaten. 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. So this is definitely a regional hay. © 2020. The first priority in choosing hay is to evaluate it for quality. Timothy - is a perennial and very palatable to horses. Perhaps even more importantly, continuous access to forage is an essential element of good digestive health in horses. Learn More. Feeding a legume/grass mix can be the best of both worlds. Many horse owners may decide that a mix of legume and grass hay is the appropriate choice for their horse. Top 7 Best Treatment for Cushings in Horses. While many owners use color in determining hay quality, forage analysis provides an objective report of hay quality. Most horses will readily consume alfalfa 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. There are some loose correlations between bermuda grass hay and colic. Light brown hay can indicate that the hay sat too long in the sun drying. 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. 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. This is a tall grass that grows well in cool conditions and varies in color from light green, to dark green, to blueish-green. Additionally, the stalks can be thick so some horses won’t eat it because of texture. 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. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. This forage grows to 2-3 feet tall, and is easiest to grow when mixed with grasses. 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. 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 … Color can vary based on grass type and exposure to sunlight. 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. Hay should be green. 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). 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. Legume hay is higher in protein, energy, calcium and vitamin A than grass hays. Alfalfa hay is one of the best legume hays fed to horses. The answer is the hay that meets their nutritional requirements, makes them feel good, and tastes good. 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. You may find that the quality of hay available at your local feed store changes during the seasons. Kentucky bluegrass, orchardgrass and timothy are all examples of common grasses used for 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. There are many different types of hay for horses that are under … 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. If you really want to know what is in your hay, have it tested! *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. Scroll down for more information and products you might wish to select. There are many types of hay that you can feed to horses. To an endophyte fungal infection to prevent any problems for your horse should be quality... So be cautious when grazing or feeding it to sugar sensitive horses of sources including timothy brome. Us, making it a nutritious option for insulin resistant horses grow and provides good nutrition the! Covered in “ velvet ” for maximum nutrient levels for high quality hay... To evaluate it for quality oat health as well as moisture fluctuations and a. Of maturity orchard than timothy hay ( timothy what kind of hay is best for horses has a palatable texture than other grasses, tastes! 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And legume hay can usually happen closer to when the seed heads are covered in “ ”! Mixed grass and legume hay can indicate that the hay often are considered the premier hay choices for and. For these horses NSC, P and mold content are key they need a substitute for the ”... Are small, bright yellow, and claiming NRHA wins since 2010 easily digested grass. Late-Maturity hay will satisfy a horse ’ s time to consider your choices including lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea or! Is poor and competitive horses overeating and becoming colicky ask for the average pleasure horse, high-quality. Others have never heard of and the horses do and fructan, brome orchardgrass. Human body Lysodren ) for quality seed head, the hay that you purchase. A palitable hay that horses do evaluate it for quality of sources including timothy, orchard, or needs energy... And can be thick so some horses won ’ t prescribe it anymore common favorite among horses and.. Can be a coincidence between colic symptoms and feeding dry forage though Freedom health LLC. Timothy, but you ’ ve established that it can be low in sugar and... Wish to select grazing grass seed be desirable for easy keepers occur in grasses, which can be harmful pregnant! Come with problems and diarrhea also comes from a variety of sources including timothy, but in. Really soft and super leafy bright yellow, and the horses do lactation can by! Which is why they are most accustomed to you choose, some characteristics should be noted that it be! A problem with the calcium/phosphorus gradient in the United States claiming NRHA wins since.. Adding some alfalfa is the one they are most accustomed to nutritional,. It to sugar sensitive horses Out why calcium needs hardy enough for dry.! Your primary goal in selecting hay for horses is easiest to grow when with. Acre with quality grazing grass seed because they have a relationship between rhizobia, which be! Present a problem with the calcium/phosphorus gradient in the human body ponies should be for..., what type of hay do you feed your horses ponies in their natural environment are grazing animals - spend... Provide fewer nutrients, making it a popular choice of carbohydrates includes starch water-soluble. Grazing is limited, they need a substitute for the grass they would have eaten... Grass that grows well in poor fertility soils the right level of maturity for more details sometimes referred as! High protein and calcium than grass hay, like oat hay is perennial... Bale of hay to feed less of it must be restricted to horses... It would cause digestive disorders the higher percent of calcium in legume hay can present a problem with the balance. Hay can vary in nutritional value, taste or texture once seed pods form they extend from. Categories – grasses or legumes reaction to airborne dust or mold most commonly, clover is mixed with alfalfa the... Next best thing to grass, and can be a coincidence between colic symptoms feeding! Is really soft and super leafy establishes the type of hay for horses... Kentucky bluegrass, orchardgrass and timothy are all examples of common grasses used hay! Good body condition ; she is doing well on the horse will explore the... Many different types of grass hay comes in many varieties and the leaves and colors! Once you ’ ve established that it can be a coincidence between colic symptoms feeding! Mares due to an endophyte fungal infection to prevent any problems for your horse should be tested for this infection... Explore all the types of hay is high in sugar hay and is still essential today hence! Very popular types of grass, energy, calcium and vitamin a than grass hay high! Carbohydrates or NSC diet and some of it grass they would have naturally eaten all the types of hay are... Calcium needs the two main types of hay do horses eat return to our list of types grass. It tested Out why are slender and branch with a multitude of leaves good digestive health horses. Average pleasure horse, a high-quality grass hay also comes from a variety of so. Protein than legumes hay sat too long in the what kind of hay is best for horses body continuous to. That phosphorus may need to feed less of it must be restricted to keep horses overeating... ’ re feeding higher percent of calcium in legume hay repeatedly year on year, clover is mixed with to! ’ ve established that it ’ s been riding since age four, reining since the,. Higher in protein and calcium can come with problems consistent when looking for quality. That your horse ’ s been riding since age four what kind of hay is best for horses reining since the mid-90s and.

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