Know What Nutrients Your Horse Needs To Pick The Best Hay

Friday, July 8th, 2016

To find the right hay for your horse, you should know about their health. A horse’s stomach is small, with a normal sized small intestine and a large hindgut. These body structures enable your horse to graze continuously rather than having one or two large meals a day.

Feeding hay to horses will provide them with the nutrients and the feeling of being full that their bodies require. Horses will eat about two percent of their body weight in dry matter every day. Just as there are different ages, classes, and workloads of horse breeds, there are also different levels of requirements for nutrients. Not all hay is the same. You need to know what nutrients your horse needs to know what type of hay to feed.

Ensuring your horses get the proper nutrients

You can make sure your horse gets the proper nutrients needed in two different ways. You can feed them late-maturity grass hay, although it does lack in protein content. You can make up this loss with a concentrated form of protein such as a grain or processed feed. This type of diet is not the healthiest for your horse. Forage levels are low in late-maturity grass. Forage should be the foundation of your horse’s diet, so this can cause your horse to develop disorders such as colic. Early-bloom hay has its drawbacks as well. A diet consisting of this variety can lead to weight problems, especially in lightly used horses.

With these two ways of feeding, it becomes difficult for you to meet what your horse requires in their intake of daily nutrients. When they don’t receive a proper balanced diet, you may start to notice behavioral problems resulting from being bored. What you need is a compromise of good quality grass-alfalfa mix for your hay.

Which types of hay are best for horses?

Timothy hay is one of the most popular types to feed a horse. If Timothy grass is not grown in your area and has to be shipped, it could be costly to feed this grass to your horse. For this variety to contain its top nutrient value, it has to be harvested in its early-bloom stage. When the second harvest is cut, this is the best to feed your horse because it contains less weeds.

Bermudagrass normally does not grow tall enough to be produced as hay in most areas of the United States. The southern part of the country can produce a taller growth, and coastal bermudagrass can also be used. Four to five cuttings can be achieved from this hay where it will grow well and will have as much nutritional value as the Timothy.

Oat hay is perhaps one of the best types of hay for horses. The choice between oat and alfalfa is usually made according to cost. You need to know what the price is per unit of protein. Certain areas of the country are better for producing oat hay than others.

Alfalfa is a good legume hay to feed your horses. Legumes contain more energy, calcium, vitamin A, and protein than grass. You will need to monitor your horses’ intake of alfalfa as they really enjoy this hay and are known to consume too much. Alfalfa contains 120 percent more energy in weight per unit than oat hay, so it will take less for your horse to get its needed nutrients.

Clover and grass hay are also legumes. There are five different kinds of clover hay. The white and ladino clover is normally found in pastures. The red, crimson, and alsike are also good, but contain less than 16 percent crude protein. Also, red clover can cause your horse to have an excess of saliva.

If you would like to learn more about hay and feed for your livestock, contact SB Hay & Feed in Amarillo, Texas. Call us today at (800) 652-3036 or Contact Us by email for more information. We aim to help farmers with abundant hay serve other farmers in need across the United States. You can also see the hay we have available to buy or sell your own!