Tips for choosing the best hay for your horses
Monday, April 2nd, 2018
Keeping your horses healthy starts with feeding them the right nutrients. Deciding what to feed them, and how much, can be difficult to determine. It would be ideal to keep your horses on pristine pastures year round where they could eat grass all day long, but the climate in America rarely allows for that. The good news is that when you utilize horse hay properly, it can be just as good as a grass based diet.
- Understand the energy needs of your horse before looking into hay. This may seem obvious, but many horse owners purchase hay for their horses without understanding the specific energy needs of the horse. This can be evaluated based on the breed, body type, weight, age metabolism, and workload of the horse. Larger horses with a heavier workload will obviously need more nutrients and energy rich hay than others.
- Know the different benefits of Legumes and Grasses. The most popular type of legume hay fed to horses is Alfalfa hay, while Timothy and Orchard are the most popular grass hay choices. A large factor in the difference between these hays is simply their geography. Alfalfa, Timothy, and Orchard grass hays are popular in Kentucky while coastal Bermuda grass is popular in the South. Another difference between the two types has to do with their nutritional content. Alfalfa hay has a higher content of protein and energy, less fiber, and more calcium. Grass hay, in turn, has lower protein levels, lower energy content, higher fiber, and lower calcium levels. Grass hay may be good for horses who has respiratory issues as it is typically less dusty, while Alfalfa Hay is usually preferred in taste by horses.
- Know where the hay has been stored. Hay should be stored in dry, sheltered areas to protect it from rain or snow. Moisture can cause bacteria to grow in the hay and cause illnesses for your horses.
- Make sure the hay has been harvested at the right time. It’s ideal for hay to be harvested when the plants are in early bloom for legume hay or before seed heads have formed for grasses. Make sure the hay is harvested at the correct maturity in order to obtain the optimal level of nutrients.
To keep your horses healthy all year round, make sure you feed them nutritional hay. “SB Hay and Feed connects livestock owners all over the United States and Canada in need of hay, with farmers who have an excess after harvest. Visit our site to find the best hay for your horses and cattle, or sign up to sell your own hay! Contact Us for more information on how you can buy and sell hay and feed online using SB Hay and Feed.