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This is a discussion on Hay? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Brome or prairie hay for horses
  • Brome vs prairie hay

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    01-16-2008, 08:48 PM

Hopefully this goes here!

I was wondering what is the best quality and safest form of hay to give to horses?

What do I want to look out for when selecting hay?
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    01-16-2008, 10:33 PM
Well, any type of hay can be bad for your horse. Dusty, old, hot, bleached, and moldy hay comes in all types.

Just examine it. It's easy to spot bad hay when you are staring at it. It's instinct. However, some people misread alfalfa as being dusty and crumbly. It's not really dusty but crumbly, yes. That's just the nature of most alfalfa.
    01-17-2008, 06:54 AM
I feed timothy. You can smell it too - good hay smells really nice.
    01-17-2008, 08:11 AM
Different areas of the country seem to have different hays available. For instance timothy hay is unavailable here. I like a good prairie hay but if you have pregnant mares you wouldn't want to feed that due to possible fescue types in it. Brome hay is very popular here and I prefer it, but it does seem to put more unwanted weight on. I buy large round bales and keep some small squares for traveling and when the weather is bad and I have to stall. The big round bales wouldn't be advisable for a single horse since it would probably go bad before he got it eatten. When buying hay look for a nice green color, good smell, more leaf than stems and no junk (twigs, weeds). Watch out for mold, I bought 16 large round bales this fall and every one had mold in them Thank goodness my hay guy replaced them all but I did have to take prairie hay over the brome. If you want you can have an analysis done, check with your local extension/ag office.
    01-17-2008, 08:56 AM
We mostly have timothy, orchard grass and alfalfa. I got one bale of alfalfa/grass mix, and they surprisingly don't like it and spread it all over.

Yes, mold is one of the most important. Also really bad hay is kinda black color (had seen those - look BAD).
    01-17-2008, 09:39 AM
Originally Posted by tim
Well, any type of hay can be bad for your horse. Dusty, old, hot, bleached, and moldy hay comes in all types.

Just examine it. It's easy to spot bad hay when you are staring at it. It's instinct. However, some people misread alfalfa as being dusty and crumbly. It's not really dusty but crumbly, yes. That's just the nature of most alfalfa.
yeh I agree
    01-20-2008, 07:47 PM
We feed alfalfa. Our horses love it so much.
Also, I don't like bermuda because it seems to make horses more prone to colic. It almost turns to like peanut butter in their stomachs.
    01-20-2008, 07:54 PM
I like alfalfa but hay prices are so crazy here lately, we havn't had any in the barn for a while. Although, I've never given it to my horse before. All he needs is good Orchard Grass. It's the most common thing in Virginia.

Alfalfa is thought of as the best kind of hay. It's very nutritional and easily digested. Also, it's very good for young growing horses.
    01-20-2008, 08:33 PM
Thanks for the advice everyone! :) I have yet to find someone who sells good quality hay but now I know what else to look for. One guy we used to buy from I had the misfortune of getting the "roadside" cut and was always digging out garbage! Ugh
    01-21-2008, 03:24 PM
What kind of hay you get depends on what is available in your area. Here we have timothy as far as grass hay goes. At least that is the most common.

What kind of hay you get depends on if your horse is an easy or hard keeper. Some horses do great on grass hay alone, some horses need something a little richer to keep weight on, or a supplement like grain.

I feed alfalfa right now because the price of grass hay here is ridiculous. $7.50 - 8.00 for a 50-70 pd. Bale! I'm able to get a 130 pd bale of alfalfa for $14 from my trainer's dad. It lasts longer because I don't have to feed as much due to the high energy content, and oddly enough its pretty much the same price as the hay (if not a bit cheaper) when you measure the amount versus the price. Alfalfa is supposed to be more expensive than grass hay! Stupid economy....

In any case, some horses may get too hot on alfalfa. So my advice would be to experiment and see what your horse does best on. Buy a couple of bales of whatever type of grass hay is prevelant in your area, and a couple of alfalfa and try her on both. If budget is an issue, generally grass hay is easier on your pocket (at least it should be.)

Whichever you get, make sure it smells good, and is free of mold, dust, and trash. Just like everyone says. Just because grass hay isn't green doesn't mean it is no good. Just make sure it isn't as yellow as straw (which is not suitable for eating, and is used for bedding material.)

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