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Roadyy 04-15-2013 08:30 AM

School me on the different hay
I realize I am ignorant to the facts about hay and think it high time to get some education from those who know.

I have been getting Premium Coastal hay for my horses and understand it to be very good quality for them. However, I see so many threads about other types of hay and have seen some of them offered locally.

Can someone explain to me the difference between the different types of horse hay.


Coastal Bermuda
Tifton 9 Bahia
Argentine Bahia
Perennial Peanut

Thank you so much for learning me if at all possible as I realize my ignorance and knowing the difference between ignorance and stupidity.

Muppetgirl 04-15-2013 09:07 AM

I'm subbing......moving from NZ to Canada I've had to re-learn a lot of stuff just because of a difference in names!

deserthorsewoman 04-15-2013 09:58 AM

I moved here from Europe. There they're just starting with "industrial" hay production, like hay as a single species crop. They do have higher protein yield grasses for milk production, but usually horse hay is considered multi- species natural, minimally fertilized forage.
Now if you think about horses being highly selective grazers, offering only one species of grass gets boring. Not only that, also lack of certain nutrients on one end, and over-providing others comes with it.
IMO, getting as many different kinds as possible and mixing it together is the way to go. I've been doing that, mixing timothy/ orchard, oathay and alfalfa.
I've found through observation, that my horses nibble a bit alfalfa, then off they go to the oathay, then it's more alfalfa, then it's o/t time, all day long.

So, if you have the possibility to mix and match, by all means, go for it.
If you are worrying about metabolic problems, the majority of the ration should be warm season grasses, like the Bermuda's, since they are generally lower in NSC's.
Never fed peanut hay, but it's a legume, so it's most likely higher in energy and protein.

Sorry to not be of more help:-)

Roadyy 04-15-2013 10:04 AM

I understand the variety idea and must confess that I get Coastal/Orchard from one person and the Premium Coastal from the local lumber/feed store. They have one of each in the pastures as we speak, that is if they haven't finished them off.

I have another thread talking about gaining access to more pasture acreage that adjoins the back of my pasture and will allow them more grazing. I'm sure once they get turned out on that then the hay consumption will go down as well. Just trying to stay on top of their needs before it becomes an issue.

deserthorsewoman 04-15-2013 10:13 AM

Oh yeah, definitely. Just keep watching. Sometimes pasture seems nice and green to us but is totally unpalatable to them. Or pasture grass is very lush and they would appreciate some dry fiber to help deal with it. They will tell you:-)

Roadyy 04-15-2013 11:02 AM

Thank you DHW. I will update as it goes and hope it helps someone else along the way.

Left Hand Percherons 04-15-2013 11:21 AM


Originally Posted by Roadyy (Post 2235777)

Coastal Bermuda
Tifton 9 Bahia
Argentine Bahia
Perennial Peanut

This list is hays that are for the most part typical southern US hays. There is some overlap of the names. Lets start by tossing out the timothy and orchard. The rest are warm season grasses. These are grasses that grow very well between FL and TX. They are heavily fertilized and the yields are exceptional. Starting with the Bermuda hays. Coastal is simply a variety of bermuda hay. Titfton 85 and 44 fall into this same category. Nutritionally, they all fall into similar values depending upon how they are managed. There are differences in yummy values.

Bahia is another warm season grass. Great yield. Tift 9, Argentine and Pensacola are simply varieties. When cured it turns a drab brown which is a turn off for some horse owners. Still has the nutrition just not the eye appeal.

Perennial Peanut hay is a legume hay. Can't grow and cure alfalfa in the deep south so this is their answer for that. Higher protein than grass and nutritionally very similar to alfalfa. Lespedeza is also in that category.

The other 2, orchard and timothy are cool season grasses that aren't going to grow well in FL so more than likely, they are being trucked in from KY or farther N. You are paying more for the trucking than you are for the hay. They are going to be tasty because they are higher in sugars than warm season grasses.

Horse owners can be very fooli$$h when it comes to buying and feeding hay. We like what we are used to. If you are used to only feeding timothy, than no matter where you live, you search out timothy. The hays that are local should never be overlooked.

Eolith 04-15-2013 11:45 AM

Isn't fescue another warm season grass? How does it stack up? I've heard that it's not a good idea for broodmares to have fescue... but what about pleasure horses?

nvr2many 04-15-2013 12:02 PM

Subbing.......... great info so far!

PaintHorseMares 04-15-2013 01:07 PM


Originally Posted by Eolith (Post 2237265)
Isn't fescue another warm season grass? How does it stack up? I've heard that it's not a good idea for broodmares to have fescue... but what about pleasure horses?

Fescue is also a very good hay. It's common in parts of the south because it very hardy and more drought resistent than some of the others. It contains a fungus that can interfere with the hormones in pregnant mares, so you do not want to feed fescue the last 60-90 days before foaling. We feed our non-pregnant mares only fescue and pregnant mares orchard.
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