Knowing the right kind of hay to feed your horses can be tricky. There are many different types depending on the area of the country you live in and the time of year the hay is cut. This article from The Naturally Healthy Horse will clear up any confusion you may have about the best hay for horses.
Selecting Hay for Horses: Which Type is Best?
Most of us know that forage should be the cornerstone of any horse’s diet, but when it comes to hay, which type is best for your horse? Knowing some basic information about the different varieties of horse hay can help. And while many of us may be limited to the hay that is available in our particular area, some of us have a few choices.
The most important factor in choosing any horse hay is that it be clean–free of mold and dust. Having no or relatively few weeds is a good thing, too. The maturity of the hay when it’s harvested is important as well. The earlier a hay is harvested (within the life cycle of the grass), the more nutrients will be available to the horse. Late-harvested hays are usually coarse and thick and are lower in nutrients as well as palatability than hays harvested in early to mid-bloom.
Legume vs. Grass Hays
There are two general types of hay: legume and grass–but sometimes hay can be a mixture of both. Legume hays (such as alfalfa) are higher in protein, calcium, Vitamin A, and digestible energy than grass hays. While growing horses, pregnant/ lactating mares, and equine athletes may need a higher energy source such as that provided by legume hays, many horses do not. Read More