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Feeding Horses
First Posted June 23, 2010
Jul 25, 2010

Selection Horse Hay

Internet Hay Exchange

It is time to purchase your hay for the coming winter. What are some of the criteria to consider when selection hay?

  • Hay is the main stay food for most horses. It is usually 2/3 or more of their nutrition.
  • Find a good supplier for hay and stick with them.
  • Try to buy your hay in the summer. It usually will cost less than in the winter. Have enough hay storage to take you through the year.
  • Purchase your hay early.
  • Be consistent on the type of hay you buy. Changing a horse's food type can cause colic and other health problems.
  • Know what you are buying. Have it analyzed.
  • Costs of hay vary. Make allowances for that in your budget.

The following information regarding a horse's needs will help in the selection of horse hay:

"Horse hay should be 10-17% moisture and about 10% crude protein. Crude protein is not likely to be a limiting part of the diet except in lactating mares, foals, or performance horses, which would require higher levels.

Hay with an acid detergent fiber (ADF) value of 30-35% is good for horses. The lower the ADF value, the more digestible the nutrients in the hay are. Hay at 45% or more ADF is of little nutritional value. Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) levels should be 40-50%, and most horses won't eat anything above 65%.

Equine feed analyses also provide non-fiber carbohydrate (NFC) estimates to help select feed for horses that show sensitivity to starches and sugars and measure digestible energy

(DE) in the hay. For a light working horse, DE should be about 20 Mcal/day, and most hays range from 0.76 to 0.94 Mcal/lb. of DE. Calcium and phosphorus ratios can vary among different types of hay, an adult horse in a maintenance phase should have a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of 3:1 to 1:1." Six Simple Tips for Buying Good Hay

Feeding Horses