Basic hay & grain information!
Do you know for sure if your horse is getting all the nutrition he needs?
I would like to share some basic hay & grain information to help you understand what your horse may or may not be missing.
I know first hand about the issues with different hay & grain and trying to figure out what kind of nutrition my horses need and how much they need.
It can be a little confusing and maybe a little frustrating.
Below I have given Basic Hay & Grain………
Forage (roughage): Hays, pastures, grasses.
Concentrates: Are Grains, pelleted feeds, sweet feeds.
Over the years, the “traditional” method of feeding a horse from horse owners, is feeding in the morning and feeding at night.
But in reality, horses are natural continuous grazers and their stomachs are designed to eat small amounts of forage several times a day. Therefore feeding only twice a day can cause issues with the horse’s intestines.
Horses should eat 1.5% to 2-3% of their body weight depending on specific needs or production stage (working horse, growing, lactating mare, maintenance, etc.) and a minimum of 1.5% should consist of dry matter or forage.
For example, a horse that weighs 1000 lbs for 2% of his body weight, he would be eating 20 lbs of food a day.
Different Types Of Hay
Hay is categorized into two different groups:
grass hay, and legume.
Some types of grass hay are:
Timothy (common in most areas depending on location), fescue, and orchard are just a few.
Grass hay has a higher fiber content than legume hay and is lower in calories.
Grass hay is the safest type of for your horse to graze on throughout the day.
Legume hays are alfalfa and clover. Alfalfa tends to be the most common legume hay to feed and is very desirable to horses and can be an excellent source of energy.
Some horses may be more sensitive to alfalfa and have a negative effect on the energy level in alfalfa.
It also has a higher calorie content, so you may not need to feed as much compared to grass hay.
It is also very important to be cautious when feeding legume hays to your horses.
Hay quality is very important for your horse’s nutrition. Determining the quality of hay can be sampled and analyzed by a horse nutritionist, but most people just use their own judgment.
Quality Of Hay
Good quality hay is fine-stemmed, leafy, and green.
Poor quality hay is steamy, yellow in color (not just sun-bleached on the outside), dusty and moldy. Always stay away from moldy hay. It can cause colic.
Hay is baled: in small Square bales that weigh 50-70 lbs.and occasionally big square bales that can weigh up to 1000 lbs.
Round bale can weigh up to 1000 lbs.round bales
Choosing the type of hay to feed your horse is a personal preference of the owner and all their convenience. A farm with a lot of horses generally feeds out the larger bales in the pasture.
Leaving the hay out in the pasture can lead to more of a risk for molding and some can get be wasted.
(if possible keep round bales out of the weather).
People who have just a few horses may feed with the smaller square bales. Storing hay is also a convenience factor. Square bales are easier to store than round bales.
Other forms of hay
Other forms of hay come in hay cubes, shredded hay, and pelleted hay and can be purchased at your local feed supply store.
This is a great option for weight gain and increasing forage in your horse’s diet. This option is also used for older horses who are no longer able to eat dry hay.
It is best to let hay cubes and pellets soak in water to prevent choke. Let soak at least for 45 minutes of room temperature.
Beet pulp! is it safe for your horse?
Beet pulp is a form of forage because of the high fiber content. There are a lot of misconceptions about beet pulp in the horse world.
For example, a lot of people believe that beet pulp is a high-sugar feed, but that is false.
Beet pulp is the product left over after sugar beets are processed, therefore the sugar has been extracted from the beet pulp.
There people that said if you do not soak your horse’s beet pulp, it will expand in the horse’s stomach and explode. This is false.
Another debate on beet pulp is that horses are more at risk for choking. Called>Esophageal Obstruction.
is a condition where food gets stuck in the esophagus.
Horses are still able to breathe even though food gets lodged in their throat. If beet pulp is not soaked, and this is a personal opinion of mine because we had one of our horses get a piece lodged in their throat and choke.
I personally have had one of my horses choke before on beet pulp because I fed it dry, it’s also dusty. So now I always soak for precaution.
(it will only take one time for your horse to choke before you will decide otherwise). Thank god my horse was okay.
Beet pulp has easily digestible fiber, making it faster for a horse to digest than hay. And because beet pulp is higher in calories than other forms of forage, it is a safe way to add calories to your horse’s diet.
It’s another great way to add forage into your horse’s diet and for weight gain.
It is also great for older horses that are unable to eat dry hay due to teeth issues or have a hard time digesting hay.
Beet pulp comes in shredded and pelleted form. As we talked about earlier, it is best to let beet pulp soak in water to prevent choking.
Are grains or pelleted feeds. Concentrates are the manufacture feed products you buy at your local feed store. Most horse feeds are already balanced for nutritional needs and are only meant to be fed to your horse on a supplemental basis to balance your horse’s nutritional requirements.
Concentrates should NEVER make up most of your horse’s diet.
Always consult your veterinarian if you are unsure of which feeds are best for your horse’s nutritional requirements.
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The information on this page called: Basic Hay & Grain Information is only for informational purposes only. Contact your veterinarian for further nutritional instructions for your horse.
Thanks, best regards. Michelle