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Hay Analysis Says Hay is Yuck

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  • Equine nutrition and feeding david frappe
  • 5% protein hay

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    12-09-2012, 11:09 AM
Two books I would recommend-

Nutrient Requirements of Horses by the NRC ( National Research Council) and Equine Nutrition and Feeding by David Frappe

I just finished an equine nutrition course, and these were the books required.

I also have Feed Your Horse like a Horse
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    12-09-2012, 07:29 PM
I would actually mix straw with most hay for 2 of mine to eat in the winter. The only thing that stops me is the cost. Straw is 3x the price here when you can even find it. One of mine is a real air fern and needs nothing to stay fat. The other needs a handful of something and a lot of nothing to stay plump.

Originally Posted by StellaIW    
Oh my, poor you!

If we got hay with 5% protein, and I assume that you mean just protein and not digestible protein? I would probably burn it. :(
You might as well just feed the horses straw if you got a hay like that.
    12-10-2012, 05:13 AM
Originally Posted by SueNH    
I would actually mix straw with most hay for 2 of mine to eat in the winter. The only thing that stops me is the cost. Straw is 3x the price here when you can even find it. One of mine is a real air fern and needs nothing to stay fat. The other needs a handful of something and a lot of nothing to stay plump.
We give our easy keepers straw mixed with hay, but here it's half or a third of the cost of hay.
But my hay got 12.5 % protein in it, so I don't have to worry about the horses not getting enough protein in their diet.
    12-10-2012, 06:33 AM
Brrrrr. Fire's out, coffee's cold. Husband's gone diving, so the bed is also freezing. Can I coax the dogs up? I don't know. Brrrrrr.

Our local tack shop hosted a feed analysis evening with Triple Crown and another company. We all brought in hay samples, and my two samples did not fare so well. My grass hay came in at 5% protein, which they said was on the low side, and the other sample from a neighbor's never fertilized fields came in at about 3% and was judged to be pretty much unfit for feeding horses.

The Triple Crown man was not crazy about the hay I am currently feeding, but with the addition of 5# alfalfa cubes daily, he said it was fine. (Ahab eats about 17# of the grass hay a day). From there I feed a 20% grain free feed (4 cups over 14 feedings), and add enough oil sources (flax seed, BOSS, and oil) to ensure that 30% of his calories come from fat, and toss in a vitamin E/selenium supplement and a hoof supplement (Source HF). And carrots now and then.

I am working on making a slow feed hay system, but haven't gotten there yet.
    12-10-2012, 07:46 AM
Super Moderator
See, I do not have a problem with 3-5% hay if I am feeding mature horses that are not needy types like hard keeping TBs or senior horses with bad teeth and higher caloric needs. Then, they cannot get enough calories from it and would need too much supplementation with concentrates.

Again, so-called nutritionists are looking at all hay samples and all horses through the same 'average' needs. Needs vary so much from situation to situation and horse to horse, that unless they treat a show fitted horse at hard work differently from a hard keeping TB from an easy keeper that is just a backyard pleasure and trail horse, they are mis-informing half of the people they do their little seminar for.

Then, you have to remember that their number one purpose for being there is to promote and sell their products -- whether your horse needs them or not.
    12-10-2012, 07:51 AM
Cherie, I'm 100% with you on this. When I briefly worked at a feed/hardware store people would come in who'd attended a feed seminar put on by one of the feed companies. "My horse needs this and this" The store owner would ask the right questions then tell them the horse didn't need this and this that it was hype. Amazing the number of customers who appreciated his integrity and became steady customers.
    12-10-2012, 11:48 AM
Green Broke
I'd be surprised to come across grass hay with protein lower than 5%. Equi-analytical publishes feed profiles based off of the samples they've processed, and they show an average protein content of ~11% for grass hay, with "normal" ranges from 7-15% (one standard deviation away from the average) Perhaps there are specific varieties that are more commonly low protein?
    12-10-2012, 12:06 PM
I like and agree w most of what Cherie says, with one caveat- while she is completely right that protein is processed by the liver for energy and the waste excreted by the kidneys, which is a problem for a horse with liver or kidney issues, that process does not damage either. If those organs are already broke, you definitely want low protein, but a high protein diet will not CAUSE damage. They've demonstrated this in multiple species in the past few years.

I'd say keep the hay, ditch the sweet feed, and use a complete pellet if needed for weight along with either a mineral mix or ration balancer. If your girl is active enough that you actually need a higher protein diet, adding in some alfalfa (hay, pellets, meal, etc) would be a safe way to bump up both the protein and calcium.
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