crash course on horse hay. help, please?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by marvella, May 31, 2005.

  1. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    i am trying to feed up two old mares, as i've mentioned before on this board. local farmers are getting thier first cutting of hay these last couple of weeks. the guy i have been buying hay from has poor quality hay, but between the horses and the goats they are cleaning everything up. i was buying it for the goats, who like the real weedy stuff. i found another guy close, who is also selling square bales at 50 cents more each. he has 100 bales of barn kept hay from last year, as well as some just cut in the last few weeks. he says it is alfalfa and orchard grass. friend says it is good hay and buys it for her horses.

    so my question is... does it make a difference? should i buy only the freshest hay, or is hay that has been barn kept over winter good enough? or does the hay have to "cure" or something before they eat it? these two old horses haven't ever been used to real quality hay, i don't think. also vet said to give them grass hay, so i wonder is the alfalfa mixed in going to be too rich for them? i don't mind springing for the more expensive stuff, if there is a real benefit to it.

    as always, thanks for all the replies!!
     
  2. MTNwomanAR

    MTNwomanAR Well-Known Member

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    Marvella, most any good, grass hay, that has been kept DRY will be good for horses....you don't want a horse to eat moldy hay....if the orchard grass/alfalfa is good and clean[not a lot of burrs, weeds, etc] it should be plenty good for horses, especially if you are graining the girls too?? You don't really want a lot of stems either...the more grass, the better.......fescue is NOT a good hay for horses, especially mares that are pregant.....Most of the folks that I know feed bermuda grass, with a bit of alfalfa thrown in occasionally. One warning though...too much alfalfa, and they more than likely will get a bit of diarreha..... hope this helps...
     

  3. mparrott

    mparrott New Member

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    Marvella, any good clean hay is going to be alright for your horses, just check for mold in your bales before you buy them. Horses can get sick on moldy hay.
     
  4. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    not only diarreha but you can founder horses on rich hay or grain ! slow prosess building up a horse,we use grass hay , little sweet feed ,bran and vegy oil also limit feed green pasture .
     
  5. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    We are just making our first cutting of hay. The first cutting often has more fiber because it's been growing all winter. We have been selling last year's hay all winter. Since a lot of it was baled nice and dry it has kept well. We sell grass, straight alfalfa and a mixture. The junky stuff we don't try to sell since a lot of our customers are buying for either horses or dairy cows. The junk goes to the beef cows or even for barn bedding.

    In my experience with our assorted horses, good grass hay is very handy to have around. It dries quicker and more thoroughly than alfalfa, so less chance of mold. More of the horses could eat it. We did have one elderly TB ages ago that had to have dairy-quality alfalfa to keep weight on. If our pony got a hold of the least little bit of her alfalfa, he was higher than a kite. Some of our Amish customers would buy the best alfalfa for their buggy horses, but those horses were working really hard.

    If the hay is too damp when it's baled it can get dusty or moldy. Either one is hard on a horse's respiratory tract.

    If I'd open a bale and it smelled sour or moldy or acrid, I'd try not to feed that one! Good hay should smell good, have good color (green in a dried out way) and feel good -- soft.

    You might get a better price if you buy by the ton. NOt all balers of "small squares" produce equal sized bales. We use a "kick" baler that throws the bales into a tall wagon on behind ... it saves labor for us. But, to get airborn, the bales have to be a little lighter than bales that were stacked on a wagon. Ours weigh *about* 40 pounds and conventional bales can weigh 45 to 50 pounds. Or more. Depends. Thus if you buy by the ton it evens that out. However, it can be a pain because you have to weigh the truck or wagon, weigh the load, etc. It might be worth investigating.

    Hope that helps!
    Ann
     
  6. Maggie10

    Maggie10 Active Member

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    Hay can vary in protein from 4 to 24 % or so. Good quality hay is important for all horses, especially older ones. I feed an alfalfa- grass mix to our horses, with the older horses getting a higher percentage of alfalfa.
    In my opinion poor quality hay is not worth hauling home for horses, there is little nutrition, and all those weed seeds come out the other end with their own pile of fertlizer. This will be hard on your pasture in the long run.
    Cloverfarm is right about buying by the ton, not the bale. Bales differ greatly in weight, depending on the type of equipment used, the dryness and type on the hay. Hope this helps, Maggie
     
  7. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    Marvella, if the vet recommended grass hay, I'd go with that. In older horses Cushings disease and kidney problems can be a worry and the protein in the alfalfa may be too high for them. I'm feeding a grass timothy mix that has been barn stored but is still green and smells sweet. Ask to break open a bale and inspect it.
     
  8. Irish Pixie

    Irish Pixie Limp Bisket LOL

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    Mixed grass hay is best in my opinion. Be careful with legumes (alfalfa, bird's foot trefoil...) must horses do not need that much protein- especially a horse with Cushings, like Lisa said.

    I read a study somewhere that indicated that good hay, barn stored, and well cured will retain it's nutritional value for 10 years. I don't think I'd feed 10 year old hay but a year or two, definately. I concur with never, ever, ever feed moldy or musty hay to anything.

    Stacy
     
  9. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    thanks all!!

    the guy offered to cut open a bale to check for mold, and it is good, sweet hay. my vet said grass hay, so that's what i want to go with. i don't see a huge amount of alfalfa in this so maybe a little isn't going to hurt. i'll watch 'em close. the other hay i was using was what i had for the goats, and i used it up. it was pretty darn weedy, some of them even had mature milkweed pods, so it looks like his one and only cutting was late in the year.


    someone asked about grain and grass, and yes they get both. they get senior feed. i started soaking amy's, and NOW she is visibly picking up weight.

    i don't have storage for tons of hay, but i can fit around 100 square bales in the loft. i only bought 20 right now, til i see how they do.

    one of these days i am going to start a thank you thread for this board. you guys are amazing. i couldn't do it without ya!! :)
     
  10. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    Be careful of milkweed Marvella, I know the sap is poisonous to animals, I don't know about dried pods. Anybody else know?
     
  11. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    Hi Marvella. Your mention of skinny older horses made me wonder whether you've had their teeth checked. If they need their teeth floated it's going to be hard to get weight on them no matter what you feed, just because it's painful for them to eat. Just a thought.
     
  12. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    yes laura, the vet checked their teeth. he said no need to float, they are so worn down. the challenge is getting their food soft enough that they can chew it and get some use out of it. right now i am soaking the elder mare's food and it helps. molly, the daughter, is picking up nicely on the senior feed.
     
  13. debitaber

    debitaber Well-Known Member

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    we feed only alfalfha hay mix, to everything. the goats get 3d cutting or better, and the horses are mixed. none get the weedy , or stimmy stuff.
    my dairy goats, get a good hay, like I said 3d cutting or better. no grass or weddy stuff, and no stems. I drink the milk, and I like rich creamy milk.