The Difference Between Timothy Hay And Alfalfa Hay

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

There are many different types of food that you can feed livestock, including timothy and alfalfa hay. Timothy, also known as orchard grass, and alfalfa are the two most popular types. Both timothy hay and alfalfa hay offer the required fiber for a herbivore’s digestive system. However, each food source has different qualities that prove beneficial to specific animals. It is important to know how to choose which type of hay is best for your livestock.

Timothy hay

Timothy is a basic grass hay variety with high quality nutrition and it features long leaves, smooth stems, and a rough texture. Many small herbivores find the fragrance of this food irresistible and it is a good source of fiber. Fiber is essential for keeping the digestive tracts of small animals functioning properly. Timothy is low in protein and calcium, however. Despite the low protein and calcium content, this food can still fill up livestock while meeting basic nutritional needs. Timothy has more carbohydrates than alfalfa, which can make it dangerous for animals that are obese or those that have laminitis concerns.

Alfalfa hay

Alfalfa hay offers the same long strand high fiber that timothy hay offers, but with higher levels of energy, protein, and calcium. This food features small clover-like leaves, branching stems, and small flower clusters and is much softer than timothy. Alfalfa is ideal for young or lactating animals that need concentrated nutrition. Alfalfa has a succulent flavor that many animals find appealing when they are sick or recovering from surgery. With a lower carbohydrate count, alfalfa is also an ideal choice for livestock with special needs such as laminitis, insulin resistance, polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM), or metabolic syndrome. Once alfalfa hay is no longer required, it is best to replace the food with timothy hay.

How to choose the best hay for your livestock

You can also combine the two types to create a rich, flavorful mixture full of nutrients. Keep in mind that there is no perfect food for every type of livestock. Some farmers feel comfortable feeding their animals 100% alfalfa or 100% timothy, while other farmers prefer to create a blend of the two kinds of food. Pay attention to the needs and preferences of your livestock, and do not be afraid to make changes to their diets as needed. If you are ever unsure about which type is best for your livestock, talk to your hay supplier.

Reputable and experienced suppliers are knowledgeable about the products that they sell and can offer detailed advice about the best diets for your livestock. Your veterinarian is also a great resource for choosing the best types of hay for your specific animals.

For more information about the best foods to feed your livestock, contact SB Hay & Feed in Amarillo, Texas. Give us a call at 800-652-3036 or Contact Us via email. We will be happy to answer your questions and help direct you to the right products for your animals. You can also see the hay we have available to buy or sell your own!