horse hay vs cow hay??

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by nans31, Aug 7, 2005.

  1. nans31

    nans31 Well-Known Member

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    I see hay listed for sale around here as "great horse hay" or "perfect cow hay" what is the difference in the two?
    nan
     
  2. RdoubleD

    RdoubleD Active Member

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    Most of the time the cow hay is moldy or sour. I have cows and horses, from what I have seen the cows will waste more of the cow then if they just ate horse quality hay. So what I do is, look at the price, if the cows are going to waste it and the price break is not much different then if I purchased horse hay I will purchase horse hay.

    What part of WA. are you in? Northwest or Eastern? If you are in the NW part I have several hay people that I work with and can hook you up for some resonable priced hay.
     

  3. nans31

    nans31 Well-Known Member

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    I'm near Longview, and am willing to drive a ways to get some good hay. I'm not wanting any moldy, damp, or sour hay, I'd love to hear what hay you get.
    nan
     
  4. pygmywombat

    pygmywombat Well-Known Member

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    It seems to vary from area to area. If you are in a place big on horses, horse hay is considered the high quality stuff. If you are in an area with lots of dairy cattle, cow hay is the best. Where I live, there are lots of horses and cows, so both tend to be good hay.

    Horse hay here is plain grasses- timothy, bermuda, etc.

    Cow hay is a bigger mix with clovers and alfalfa in it. They can also eat the plainer horse type hays, but like a variety more.

    Neither animal should be given only moldy, sour hay as their only food option. If I get a bad bale I toss it outside and let the cow eat what she wants, alongside her good hay.

    Lactating cows need good hay to keep up with the massive demands making milk puts on their bodies. Dry cows can be fed poorer hay, as long as they can keep a good body condition. This goes for beef or dairy cows.
     
  5. Kasidy

    Kasidy Well-Known Member

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    Out here in Montana where we raise great hay the difference between horse hay and cow hay is what kind of plants make up the hay. Great horse hay will be good quality grass hay--mostly brome in this area. It will have very few if any weeds and will be dry, but the grass will still be green in color, not overripe or overdried and brown and crumbly. While it is true that because of their digestive system cows can eat hay that is poor condition nobody would call that good or great cow hay. Great cow hay will be mostly alfalfa--or at least 70/30 alfalfa grass mix. It should be a leafy fine stemmed variety of alfalfa put up when it is not too far into bloom. It should also be well dried, not damp or moldy, with green stems and little purple alfalfa flowers looking pressed and delicious. Hay heavy in alfalfa content is too rich for horses and can cause various digestive problems.
     
  6. linn

    linn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Horse hay around here is grass hay. Cows do better on good,leafy clover or alfalfa hay. No animal should be fed moldy hay.
     
  7. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like it varies depending on area. Around here the "horse" hay is cut at a younger age so it's more tender and palatable. They let the "cow" hay grow a little more and it's a little stemmier. Sometimes calling it horse hay is just a way to charge more for it.
     
  8. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Cow hay isn't always moldy, some of our customers bought hay (other places), and had mold in it. It was "horse hay". Now the cow hay, horse hay difference isn't much, and it seems a horse eats whatever its owners want it to eat, depending how they treated the animal. We have customers who buy hay, does not have to be high quality, their horses eat it, and do well. We have another one that freaks out over alfalfa (its kinda ridiculous, if she figured on less grain with some alfalfa in the bales). Some people who are raising horses to race, will feed pure alfalfa or atleast the highest protein stuff they can buy. Funny thing is, high energy feed is also fed to cows, if the person feeding does so. Our cow feed can also be horse feed that we feed out. Some say "cows can eat about anything right (horse person)?". We inform them, they rather eat good hay, its like any animal. If its good stuff, you only get what you put into them. Funny thing, any dairy that has called us did not want to buy the stuff sold that horse people thought was great. It was usually price, or like last year, quality. The alfalfa was terrible (it went 6 weeks+ beyond full bloom, because it was wet). The RFV was low, and wasn't good. We fed it to our herefords, they ate it up. Protein wasn't bad, but was not the greatest. What would I consider that stuff as? Well, we fed it, but I did not like it. This year is a different story. So it really depends puts up hay. Some care, and have good stuff all around, some cut when rain is forecasted and sell it.


    But the difference between cow hay? and Horse hay? If its dairy, milking etc. The hay needs to be high quality, higher than what a horse needs and in some cases higher than you want to feed them. Our customers like the 12-14% range hay. Some like 2nd leafy orchard grass, while others like 1st cut orchard. Personally, I love Grass Silage, with hay! ;).


    Jeff
     
  9. nans31

    nans31 Well-Known Member

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    :help: I am so confused! Obviously it depends on the area you're living... I have rabbits, goats (wethers) and a calf that is eating hay. I have a grass hay (the "local" hay, grass and mixed weeds, an orchard/alfalfa mix, and orchard grass (a BIG mixture of plants, this makes me sneeze like crazy so not sure what's in thee). I need stemmy plants for the rabbits, the alfalfa mix seems to be great for them... the grass hay I got for the calf and goats... but not sure if it's rich enough for the calf. These are all western washington baled products.
    Thanks for all the info.... I'll have to do some research on hays!!
    nan
     
  10. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    The way to prevent waste with alfalfa (depends on the quality too) with cows, feed them with a feeder where they cant sort out the leaves, and push hay onto the ground. Those V shaped goat feeders work well for cows, cut bigger holes (smooth the edges!!!). I have feed several alfalfa bales as of late, very very little waste with that goat feeder.


    Jeff
     
  11. Allan Mistler

    Allan Mistler Just a simple man

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    That's about how we make the call up here in NH too! I'm under the impression that horses are finicky about having a leafy hay with very little (if any) dust. My cows (I don't do horses) don't mind the dust or stems at all and, since I only feed them what they finish eating, they don't exhibit any "wasteful" characteristics. Perhaps using a different type of cattle hay feeder would resolve that issue for those who are experiencing it. Horse quality hay is consistantly more expensive here than what I refer to as "cow-grade" hay.
    Interesting how the definition varies in different parts of the country...
     
  12. craisbeck

    craisbeck "Simple Life"

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    I am originally from WI and farming and Cheese is about hte extent of Rural WI. Horse hay usually has a higher grass content. If horses are fed to much high quality alfalfa (early cut with high protien level) the can founder. Cow's however produce very well on hay that has a high protien content. Rule of thumb is alfalfa with the most leaves should be used for cows. Horse need more of a stemmy grass based hay.
     
  13. nans31

    nans31 Well-Known Member

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    What do you mean by "since I only feed them what they finish eating, they don't exhibit any "wasteful" characteristics."
    I've talked to a few people who only have cows, and the opinions vary greatly. Each does his own thing, and that is THE WAY. I don't have horses, but as I'm looking for a good hay, I pretty much see horse OR cow hay. I guess I need to question more of what type of hay it is, and not go by what their opinion is! And, around here hay goes from 3.00-15.00 a bale! What a difference. I just opened a 3.00 bale of alfalfa mix, and it is some nice stuff (for rabbits) stems, and leaves. Doesn't look a whole lot different than the 14.00 bale I bought a few weeks ago!??
     
  14. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    What was the RFV of the 14.00 bale?
     
  15. Allan Mistler

    Allan Mistler Just a simple man

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    I don't have a set quantity of hay that I automatically throw in the feeder every day... I'll feed them a quarter of a bale to a half a bale at a time as they consume what was already placed there. In this fashion, though it requires that I look in on them several times each day, I can avoid allowing them to waste their feed. I use a vertical hay feeder which has troughs below the bars to catch any hay that is dropped. I feed them their grain in these troughs also, so they are used to cleaning them up completely.
    My neighbor uses a round hay feeder that sits right on the ground and the cows stick their heads through a keyhole like opening to eat. This seems to avoid waste also. As you can see, there are different ways to address that problem.
     
  16. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Thank you for asking this question, because it's something I have puzzled over too!

    Around here, the dairy farmers complain that horse people are too picky about their hay!

    But the hay I see being fed to cows is often second cutting or alfalfa -- the really premo stuff that you can be sure MY horses aren't getting!

    (They all manage to stay fat and sassy on first cutting grass hay with some grain.)
     
  17. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    One of the main concerns that "horse people" have is that horses can't eat dusty or moldy hay as it can produce a permanent, chronic cough in them. Not good if you want animal to do alot of.... running....
    dairy people are more concerned with protien and feed values as that is going to determine to a large degree how much milk and the fat content of the milk.They have four chambered stomachs also with means they digest grains and roughage better. Horses have a relatively small stomach for their size.
     
  18. nans31

    nans31 Well-Known Member

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    RFV=Relative Feed Value?? It is never provided where I get my hay. It's grown in Eastern Wa. is all that I'm told. I buy it from a lady who buys whole fields, and hauls it over here to Western Wa. I wish I knew more of the numbers, but I know it will vary field to field, year to year, etc.
    nan
     
  19. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    It's even more complicated than that. I'd say there's horse hay, beef cow hay, dairy cow hay, calf hay.

    The guys I sell "horse hay" to are a finicky lot, but they're willing to pay top dollar for their type of hay. I have one buyer who buys around 50 ton of hay each year, and he wants grass/grass mix hay (timothy and orchardgrass) but will tolerate a small amount of alfalfa that is dry and dust-free. He doesn't want predominantly alfalfa hay, doesn't want fescue and red-clover in the mixed grass hay, doesn't want hay that's had significant rain on it. Bales are small squares and he is with the semi when every load is picked up. Could feed this hay to calves as well.

    Beef cow hay can be coarser and of lower quality than hay for dairy cows.

    Around here, dairy farms want to buy that high-RFV alfalfa because that's typically the most difficult hay to put up, but they don't free-choice it. What each dairy farm is looking for in hay depends on what type of hay and hay sileage they have put up themselves, and what they're feeding.
     
  20. Nan

    Nan Well-Known Member

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    The main difference between "horse hay" and "cow hay" is the cutting. Early cutting is usually sold as horse hay. Nutrionally it is better but the main reason is looks. Horse people don't like dark hay. Later cuttings tend to be "rougher looking" and if it gets any rain while it is down it will bale brown not green. There is also the bug issue. Early cuttings don’t have as many problems with Blister beetles or other pests. Aside from that there is no difference between horse and cow hay. (This does not include sorghums)