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Horse quality hay vs. cow quality hay

This is a discussion on Horse quality hay vs. cow quality hay within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • Can i feed hay grazer to horses
  • Can horses eat a net has been rained on

 
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    12-22-2010, 02:24 PM
  #11
Foal
It seems where I live alot of people buy the name, 'horse hay' for horses must be better quality and 'cow hay' must be poorer quality, my other half is a farmer and there is no difference as to the hay quality that they feed the cows or sell to livery yards in the area. Too many people seem to assume that the hay is different when it is usually from the same field, the same cut and is wrapped at the same time. Many times I have gone down the farm and the hay they are feeding the cows seems to be of better quality than the bale of hay my horse was eating! I don't think its cows that will eat anything, rather that farmers will give the cows a bale that horse owners would not think suitable for their horse.

However sometimes the horse may require different qualities... the good-doer will need the bulk rather than the nutrients from the hay, whereas for a poor-doer they will need good quality forage to supply their nutrient requirements.
     
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    12-22-2010, 02:57 PM
  #12
Yearling
I need bulk AND nutrients. With it being cold outside, I know they need to eat hay to help keep them warm which is why I do bulk. Rook is a hard keeper which is why I need nutrients. I haven't been able to find good quality square bales, so I started looking at round bales. I found a guy with good quality round bales, so I decided to try it. They have 1 for when they're outside, and I've been peeling off of another for when they're inside. They've eaten a whole round bale...even with them being inside at night, in 1 week and 2 days. It did have some dust after I got through the first few layers, but I water it down before letting them in for the night. If the hay looks like dried out straw or has sticks or stalks in it, I won't touch it for my guys.
     
    12-22-2010, 03:09 PM
  #13
mls
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peggysue    
mls I have given away hay that got too wet for my horses... 200 bales one year and about 50 this year
I have no idea what you mean by that. Hay gets wet all the time. Horses can still eat it.
     
    12-23-2010, 09:29 AM
  #14
Started
MLS it didn't dry properly one time and the 200bales the dummy baled while it was raining they were soaked...
     
    12-23-2010, 11:15 AM
  #15
Weanling
In our area, if a feed store or farmer hangs the title "horse hay" or "alpaca hay" on something it usually means the price is tripled or more what it should cost. I'm with Production Acres on this one.
     
    12-26-2010, 10:01 PM
  #16
Super Moderator
Well, it depends where you live. There is a really big difference in the plains states. Cow hay can be poor quality like hay that is not cured well or baled too soon after rain and it is dark and dusty from mold. Some of these molds are toxic to horses. Cattle can digest hay that is black, dusty, has gray and white mold in it --- stuff that would kill a horse.

We keep cattle and a few Bison just to feed bottom bales and spoiled hay to so we don't just waste it. Then, we have the cattle or Bison to work with our horses.

There is also a huge quantity of hay baled for cows that is Johnson Grass, Hay Grazer or other coarse grasses in the Sudan family. You can also buy baled wheat, straw, corn stalks, etc. These are definitely not suitable for horses.

If you have broodmares or young horses, you do not want to feed Fescue Hay. It is the cause of more breeding, foaling or foal mortality problems than anything else in the central and eastern United States. Just Google 'Fescue Toxcicity in Horses'.

If you feed alfalfa, most of it is tested and is sold by its RFV value. That stands for 'Relative Feed Value'. Good quality grass hay (like good Brome Grass) is the standard at 100 RFV. Dairy quality alfalfa that is bright green and very leafy runs 185 to 200 RFV. It will usually run about 25% protein. Most horse breeders and trainers around here stay with hay that is tested at 140 to 160 RFV if they are going to feed alfalfa.

If you want to see how hay is listed in the US, go to Internet Hay Exchange - Hay For Sale. I have bought hay from it when we had a drought in Oklahoma and I found semi-loads on this site. You can see that there are many kinds of hay for sale -- not all are suitable for horses.

I hope this clears up some of the misconceptions about hay -- at least in the US.
     
    12-28-2010, 11:21 AM
  #17
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peggysue    
MLS it didn't dry properly one time and the 200bales the dummy baled while it was raining they were soaked...
In my area if it gets rained on once it's cut they use it for cattle even if it has dried out. My supplier also has areas in his field that he wouldn't sell for horses buts uses for cattle. I am also assuming a dairy cow needs certain hay to produce a maximum amount of milk so they may get something different but that is an assumption on my part. Just as Kobe beef gets a special diet
     
    12-28-2010, 03:02 PM
  #18
Green Broke
Here if it says cow hay it's going to be icky. The guy I buy hay from plants Alicia Bermuda and fertilizes for horse hay. We feed it and some alfalfa, about 1/2 a flake per horse per day of the alfalfa.
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    12-28-2010, 05:16 PM
  #19
Trained
Horse and cow hay are mainly different in how good quality it is; cow hay may have weeds in it, horse hay usually doesn't. Horse hay is usually nice and green, where cow hay might have been rained on, and though dry, might be less green. Horse hay is not moldy, where some cow hay might be moldy. The hay that was fed to the horses at the school I worked at last year was sold as cow hay, but was decent enough quality for horses as well...it was just a little more dry/brown than they liked so they sold it as cow hay.
     
    12-28-2010, 05:33 PM
  #20
Weanling
Here in Minnesota, cow hay is either very dusty, moldy, damp, or extra rich (for dairy cattle). Since cows have more than one stomach, they can digest this hay better and get more nutrition from it than a horse could.
     

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