Sometimes it seems that the more we know, the more there is to know. It’s a double-edged sword! I’m saying this a little tongue-in-cheek as I truly believe the more informed one is the better one can care for their horse, or anything else for that matter.
Have you considered the hay your horse is being fed? Here is some food for thought ;o) …
As the ground from which a plant grows will influence its nutritional makeup, a hay’s nutrition will vary depending upon where it was grown. Other factors such as the type (grass or legume) and variety of hay, environmental stress factors, and also when the grass or legume is harvested will influence your hay’s nutritive values. Therefore a nutritional analysis of your specific hay supply is important. As one IR horse owner wrote in.. “all hays should be analyzed to make sure you are meeting your horses needs. It is not expensive to have done, and the benefits may be huge if not even life saving!”.
Here are some informative articles on Hay:
Here is a general nutritional comparison of a few varieties of hay:
|Table 1: Typical nutrient content of hays fed to horses (as fed basis).|
|Hay Variety||Digestible Energy (Mcal/lb)||Total Digestible Nutrients (%)||Crude Protein (%)||Calcium (%)||Phosphorus (%)|
|Alfalfa||0.8 to 1.1||48 to 55||15 to 20||0.9 to 1.5||0.2 to 0.35|
|Red Clover||0.8 to 1.1||46 to 52||13 to 16||0.8 to 1.5||0.2 to 0.35|
|Orchardgrass||0.7 to 1.0||42 to 50||7 to 11||0.3 to 0.5||0.2 to 0.35|
|Timothy||0.7 to 1.0||42 to 50||7 to 11||0.3 to 0.5||0.2 to 0.35|
|Bermudagrass||0.7 to 1.0||42 to 50||6 to 11||0.25 to 0.4||0.15 to 0.3|
|Tall Fescue||0.6 to 0.9||40 to 48||5 to 9||0.3 to 0.5||0.2 to 0.35|
|Sources: National Research Council, 1989; UK Equine Nutrition Program, 1999.|
And what about forage for the growing number of insulin resistant horses?
Some varieties of warm climate Grass Hay are commonly used in these cases (as cold climate grasses contain higher sugar levels).
There is also a new hay on the market called TEFF Hay that is a Lower NSC hay (often testing less than 10% for non-structural carbohydrates but this can vary). Horses seem to like it; often picky horses will love Teff! It helps keep weight on while providing higher relative nutrition without making horses “hot”. Being a warm-weather grass crop, Teff typically has fewer sugars than that of a cold-weather crop such as an orchard or a timothy crop would have. Relative Feed Values (RFV) are also proved to be higher in Teff hay meaning higher quality, better intake, higher digestibility, and fewer additional needs to supplement the diet of the horse.
A great resource:
Finally, this page has a compilation of various hay analyses listed from all over the US by different individuals.
I hope this article has provided you with some helpful resources.
Wishing vibrant health for your equine partner.