The majority of our horses eat hay, which is an excellent source of the forage they need.
The finest Hay For Horses May likely look different depending on where you live and what you do with your horse this post will explore seven different kinds of hay
To begin, hay may be classified as either legume or grass, while some hays are really a hybrid of the two types.
While developing horses, pregnant/lactating mares, and equine athletes may benefit from the extra protein, calcium, and Vitamin A that legume hays give compared to grass hays, many other adult horses do not.
Compared to legume hay, grass hay usually has less calories and less protein, but more fiber. Many older horses who aren’t actively working may get by on a diet of high-quality grass hay alone.
The sugar and energy content of cold season grasses (and their palatability) tend to be greater than those of warm season grasses, and the two types of grass hay may be further subdivided based on where they flourish.
We will begin with the warm season grass hay.
Coastal Bermuda Grass
This Horse Hay is often consumed in the southern United States. Very high digestibility and a protein level of 6-11% characterize Bermuda grass hay. Be wary of buying or feeding Bermuda grass hay, since it has been linked to ileal impaction colic in cases of late harvesting.
The nutritional value of brome grass is comparable to that of Bermuda grass, and it is also quite tasty.
Bromegrass has more constant nutritional content and is less likely to develop moldy since it matures later in the season, when weather is less changeable.
Also, elderly horses who prefer softer hay do well on brome grass.
Horse Hay made from prairie grasses is a blend of many types of natural grasses from the Midwest. Prairie grass generally contains between between 6% and 8% protein.
Depending on the grass variety used and the time of harvest, the quality of this sort of hay might vary widely.
Northern and eastern parts of the United States are common places to find orchard grass fields. The exceptional palatability and nutritional density of this hay make it a viable option for many horses.
Orchard grass has a comparable, balanced amount of calcium and phosphorus to that of Timothy grass, and it also has a greater crude protein (10-12%) and calorie content than most other grass hays.
Early in the bloom cycle is ideal time to gather orchard grass.
Timothy Grass Hay
Popular and easily absorbed, timothy Horse Hay is a go-to choice for livestock feed. Quality Timothy grass has a moderate calorie content and calcium to phosphorus ratio (around 1.2:1), and a modest quantity of protein (about 8%).
The biggest disadvantage of Timothy Horse Hay is that it is not widely available, despite the fact that horses like its flavor.
Because of its high water needs and limited annual harvest, timothy grass is often only mowed twice a year.
The two very common legume hays for horses:
The most common kind of legume hay is alfalfa Horse Hay because to its high protein and calcium content and low sugar content.
While most horses like alfalfa, some have trouble digesting it. When compared to other hays, alfalfa has one of the highest protein content ratios, with a crude protein content of 15-20%.
Although abundant in protein and other beneficial nutrients, alfalfa is linked to the development of enteritis in horses owing to an imbalance in calcium and phosphorus as well as its high protein content.
The percentage of alfalfa in a horse’s diet that is considered optimal is between 10 and 20 percent.
Clover hay has a protein concentration between 13 and 16 percent, making it a popular choice among animals.
Red clover is the most common variety of clover used for Horse Hay, although there are others. Clover, however, may develop a mold that causes horses to salivate excessively
, giving them the slobbers, therefore it’s important to exercise care when feeding this sort of hay to horses.
Horse Hay And Gut Health
Your horse’s digestive tract should remain healthy if you feed him a diet consisting mostly of high-quality hay. Combining different types of hay, such legume and grass, is also helpful. However, gastrointestinal distress might arise if we switch hay suppliers or feed varieties.
The bacteria in a horse’s hindgut adapt to ferment the hay or concentrate the horse typically consumes, thus introducing a different kind of hay or concentrate might throw off the balance of those bacteria.
Changing your horse’s diet should be done gradually over a period of 7-10 days, so take your time selecting the correct hay or hay blend for your equine.
Take a high-quality probiotic supplement at this time for extra digestive tract defense.
High Quality Hay Cost
A mature horse that rides recreationally several days a week has minimal nutritional needs.
The National Research Council’s Nutrient Requirements for Horses (2007) states that a 1,100-pound riding horse requires 20.0 mega calories of digestible energy 699 grams of crude protein, water, minerals, and vitamins.
If this horse had free-choice access to good-quality
Coastal Bermuda grass hay, which costs $6.00 per 50-pound (22.7 kg) bale,
It will invest 2.5 percent of its body weight in dry matter daily (27.5 pounds, or 12.5 kg). If hay has 87% dry matter, a 50-pound bale will provide 43.5 pounds, or 19.8 kilograms, of dry matter
Make Hay Your Diet Base
Hay, grass, and sugar beet pulp fill the gut (especially the cecum and colon, known collectively as the hindgut).
This fill keeps food going down the digestive system, feeds healthy hindgut microorganisms, and prevents intestinal twisting.
Good food, water, and minerals provide enough nourishment for the ordinary pleasure horse. Late-pregnant or lactating mares, growing horses, and hard-working horses need more nutrients, which concentrate meals provide.
To avoid digestive issues, horses should have at least 1% of their body weight in long-fiber forage DM daily.
Horses consume 2.5 percent of their body weight in dry matter daily when given grass or Horse Hay.
A 1,100-pound horse requires 11 pounds of long-fiber feed dry matter daily.
Free-choice hay or pasture allows this horse to eat up to 27.5 pounds of dry matter each day. Grass Horse Hay generally contain 84 to 87% dry matter. 27.5 pounds of dry matter equals 31–32 pounds of hay for a horse.