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Re: type of hay to use

> Gerald O. Thompson
> I need help deciding on the appropriate type of grass hay to feed my
> horses.  When I had one or two there was not much to decide by now that we
> have over twenty it becomes a matter of nutrition versus cost.

As a general rule of thumb, going for the best quality hay you can find
generally works out to be the most cost-effective as well.  That doesn't
mean you need to import lichens from the artic circle, but get the best you
can find locally that is also going to be available consistently.

 So first
> question?  Local grass has only about 4-5% protein versus Timothy or
> Orchard grass at 12-15% does that mean I can feed less?

No, you still need to feed a minimum of 13-16 pounds per day of dryweigh
forage for a 1000-lb horse to maintain gut integrity.  However, with the
4-5% hay, you're going to have to provide additional protein and energy
sources, whereas with the 12-15% timothy or orcahrdgrass, you won't need
additional protein and may not need additional energy if your horses are
easy keepers.

Also, when you say the grass is 4-5%, that's in the range of straw---you do
mean local grass hay?  Or is that grass, as in fresh pasture?  If it's
pasture, then the protein content is probably closer to 12% once you've
calculated it on a dryweight basis---which would make it equivalent to the
timothy or orchardgrass.

 If I feed less
> will the horse feel hungry as horses are grazers and more bulk provides
> something to graze on during the winter months or in the stall.

Yes, and then your savings in hay costs are eaten up in chewed fences and a
higher likelihood of colic problems.

> obvious reason for the question is that local gras costs $5/100 versus
> timothy at $10/100 double the feed costs.

Choose whichever hay looks to be of the highest quality BEFORE you look at
price---that will end up being the "cheapest" hay in the long run.  If both
hays are equivalent in quality, my personal choice would probably be the
timothy.  I like the mineral profile a bit better, plus it tends to be more

Susan G

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