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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So where I board my horse, they are literally down to a bale of hay left. That gives them one day to find more hay. They were thinking of calling over to the farm where I work and getting a large square bale because all of our hay suppliers are completely out. The only problem is, the bale would be cow hay. Having worked on a farm for years, I know there is a big difference between cow hay and horse hay. Since it is a lot woodier and twig-ish I don't think they would even be interested in it. And I'm not sure, but isn't the nutritional value way different? I'm also worried that if they do get this hay, their horse will eat it and mine won't because my mare is super picky. And if this does happen, I am worried they won't do anything about it and she will starve herself. She is 20 years old so she needs those nutrients.

Opinions? Thanks! :)
 

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It really depends on the hay, but in general, it is usually roughage with low nutritional value and you need to watch for mold, etc. since cows will eat almost anything. Horses won't starve themselves, but the concerns are that they may forage for anything else around to eat including stuff that is not good for them if they are hungry enough, and a sudden change in diet can cause intestinal problems (e.g. colic).
 

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Depends on hay. The place I used to board my horses made own hay (nice little round bales) and fed it to the horses as well as their cows (they were very careful about making a hay, and it was stored in huge barn for the winter, and I know couple people bought hay there for horses). However generally the cow hay I see around is low quality - huge bales kept outside and looking moldy by Spring. I wouldn't feed it to horses. Also with round bales it's always a very good practice to give botulism shots to the horses.
 

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Ditto what the others said. However, if it's a choice between cow hay and no hay, I'd choose cow hay. It will at least satisfy part of the horses' need for chewing forage a certain percentage of the day.

If you mare is super picky, as you say, I'd look at supplementing her diet with another form of roughage to be on the safe side - beet pulp or hay cubes would both be options.
 

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As long as it's not moldy you should be ok. I'm actually down to cow hay as well. I had to go to a nearby dairy farm for a round bale. BUT... I did see a farmer out cutting hay yesterday so the new stuff is coming!
 

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Wow, farmpony, where do you live? I haven't seen anybody cutting hay yet, but I suspect I will this week as it's unseasonably hot. Usually first cutting around here is around Memorial Day weekend.
 

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Maura, my cattle breeder neighbors have already started cutting and baling hay.

I've cut my acreage once, and I'm going to have to do it again this weekend. Our grass has been growing like crazy!

I have my year's supply of hay booked and it looks to be a banner year for it, which is good. The last several years with the drought made hay hard to come by.

I'm getting it for $2.50 a square bale this year. Last year I paid $6.00 a square bale, so I'm psyched! I do have to go pick it up out of the fields, but who cares?

I'm not keen on feeding cow hay, but if you can pick through it and not give the horses the moldy stuff, it should be okay in a pinch.
 

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Ok folks - as a beef producer - let me say we do not feed poor quality hay. We can feed the same hay we buy for the cattle to the horses. It's not moldy or coarse or stemmy. Most of our cattle are more valuable than the horses boarded here. No offense to my boarders at all.

However - if a crop is down and rained on prior to being baled - our hay guy will specifically market it towards cattle. The only difference we have noticed is it may be more dusty.

Yes cattle can get by with a lesser quality hay but please don't label all cow hay as bad!
 

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There is no such thing as COW HAY!!!!!!!!!!

This absurd labeling of hay by horse lovers has no basis in fact! The best hay in the nation goes to our dairy herds. Many cow herds are fed better than you could imagine! Yes there are a lot of people out there that feed some real crap to their cows. There are people out there that put their animals in all sorts of riducoulous situations - both out of love, neglect, and ignorance.
But call the hay what it is - cheap! or Junk! or Erosion Control Material!
Labeling hay should be based on its forage analysis, not the stock you see eating it! The stock you see eating it do not qualify as a forage analysis!
There is good hay put up in every bale dimension, in every climate, of every species of grass. There is also garbage baled in every bale dimension, every climate, and of every species of grass.
 

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I have to agree with FP, so long as there is no mold it should be okay to get her by until some more can be found. After weeks of searching, I finally found someone who actually has some really good alfalfa hay for sale for $50 a bale (3x3x8 bales). Around here, most cattle get fed hay that is not really high enough quality for horses to be sustained on, i/e wheat straw or often times it is either grass hay or low quality alfalfa that has been rained on and is moldy.

Just check it over really well and I'm sure that she will eat what is available if she gets hungry enough.
 

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This absurd labeling of hay by horse lovers has no basis in fact! The best hay in the nation goes to our dairy herds. Many cow herds are fed better than you could imagine!
Around here if it's advertised as "Cow Hay" it WILL be crummy and moldy. 99% of people selling "Cow Hay" make sure to note in large letters that it is NOT suitable for consumption by horses. Now I personally wouldn't feed the "Cow Hay" sold here to any animal but obviously someone is or nobody would sell it.

It's not so much about the name someone calls it as what you are actually getting. We visited about 6 places selling "Horse Hay" before we found the quality that we were willing to feed our horses (and promptly bought all he had). The guy we purchased our hay from will call us as soon as he has more ready but even though we are absolutely thrilled with what we bought, we'll still go out there and inspect it before we commit to purchasing. Our one horse coliced the last time we ran out and were forced to use cubes so we buy hay by the truckload now to try and avoid the possibility of running out.
 

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99% of people selling "Cow Hay" make sure to note in large letters that it is NOT suitable for consumption by horses.
Exactly. That's the type of hay I'm talking about.

The people who bale and sell hay around here always indicate whether or not it's recommended for feeding to horses.

'Cow hay' is specifically cut and baled with less attention to tettering and insuring it's as dry as possible before it's baled. Because of that it tends to be more wet, and more susceptible to mold.
 

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This absurd labeling of hay by horse lovers has no basis in fact! The best hay in the nation goes to our dairy herds. Many cow herds are fed better than you could imagine! Yes there are a lot of people out there that feed some real crap to their cows. There are people out there that put their animals in all sorts of riducoulous situations - both out of love, neglect, and ignorance.
But call the hay what it is - cheap! or Junk! or Erosion Control Material!
Labeling hay should be based on its forage analysis, not the stock you see eating it! The stock you see eating it do not qualify as a forage analysis!
There is good hay put up in every bale dimension, in every climate, of every species of grass. There is also garbage baled in every bale dimension, every climate, and of every species of grass.
I'm sorry that you are offended. Cow hay, in my opinion is hay that has a little more "crud" in it than I would like, such as briars and weeds. It also isn't quite as "clean". Cows can eat alot more stuff then horses can. I wouldn't quite call it erosion control hay.... it's edible..... just not what I want for my horse.
 

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Interesting point. In my area referring to low quality hay as cow hay and better quality hay as horse hay is common. The other part of the code seems to be "cow hay" = round bales kept outside uncovered or wrapped bales kept outside and "horse hay" has been kept inside. BUT the hay my inlaws put up on the homeplace to feed our own cows and sell is better quality than most "horse hay" I've seen. However, they are very dedicated, serious farmers and business people.

Maybe "cow hay" really reflects that their are a lot of half-assed farmers who run 10 - 12 head of beef cows in order keep their land rated as agricultural use who don't care about the quality of the hay or the weight gain of the beef? I can't believe some of the crap I've seen people bale.
 

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Wow, farmpony, where do you live? I haven't seen anybody cutting hay yet, but I suspect I will this week as it's unseasonably hot. Usually first cutting around here is around Memorial Day weekend.
Fredericksburg area, there is only one farmer I've seen bailing. My supplier has not baled yet. I did find a lady that has some of last years alfalfa square bales that are... OK. bleached on the outside but green on the inside. I ordered some of those. I really hope they bale soon!
 

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Maybe "cow hay" really reflects that their are a lot of half-assed farmers who run 10 - 12 head of beef cows in order keep their land rated as agricultural use who don't care about the quality of the hay or the weight gain of the beef? I can't believe some of the crap I've seen people bale.
Where I live, that is correct. The general population has 2 - 10 cows in their backyard. Judging from the living condition that most of these animals are in (kinda, sorta fenced, grazing around junk piles and old cars, water troughs that look like they were last cleaned in 1910 and so forth....) I just don't think that the people feeding them know any better. Pull up Craigslist, see an ad for some really cheap "Cow Hay" and since they *are* cows, there ya go.

There's a place on the way to my kiddo's school that has a giant sign saying they sell hay. The "hay" they are selling was baled and stacked directly on the ground (with no covering of any sort) before school started last August. It has sat out in the open since then, it has snowed at least 3 dozen times, hailed about the same quantity and I cannot begin to count how many times it's poured. I'm not sure that what this guy has should even be called "hay" any more but yet, he's trying to sell his "cow hay" and is busy feeding it to the dozen or so decrepit, mangy-looking cows wandering around his property. :shock:
 

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I'm in the middle of beef cattle country, so the smallest herd I've seen has been about 200 head.

The beef farmers around here cut and bale their own, but I know what their fields look like and they bale everything, which includes weeds, inedible plants, etc. They also cut and then immediately bale it. At no time does it have time to dry properly for horses. It's intended for cattle, period.

People cutting and baling for horses do it differently. I have no problem with buying round bales if I know the hay has been cut, dried, baled, and stored properly with horses in mind. Round bales aren't inherently 'cow hay' just because they're round.
 

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I'm in the middle of beef cattle country, so the smallest herd I've seen has been about 200 head.

The beef farmers around here cut and bale their own, but I know what their fields look like and they bale everything, which includes weeds, inedible plants, etc. They also cut and then immediately bale it. At no time does it have time to dry properly for horses. It's intended for cattle, period.

People cutting and baling for horses do it differently. I have no problem with buying round bales if I know the hay has been cut, dried, baled, and stored properly with horses in mind. Round bales aren't inherently 'cow hay' just because they're round.
My farmer is a beef farmer. He has round bales that are "cow bales" and he has round bales that are "horse quality". And what you are saying is exactly correct. The horse hay comes from a completely different field then the larger one that bales cow hay. It's a different quality even.
 

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Wow, farmpony, where do you live? I haven't seen anybody cutting hay yet, but I suspect I will this week as it's unseasonably hot. Usually first cutting around here is around Memorial Day weekend.
Two farmers next to me cut orchard hay this week here in MD as well. Grass is HUGE this year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Uhm, well... Jeeze. I didn't really think this thread could possibly offend anyone, but let me explain my "absurd labelling" of the hay:

The hay we feed to our horses is a grass/alfalfa mix. It is cut, dried and baled as all hay is. However, what makes it different than "cow hay" is that it is much...softer (for lack of a better word). Cow hay around here is more stemmy and woody and generally has some amount of mold in it. It is lower quality than most hay being sold specifically as "horse hay". That is not to say that ALL farmers feed their cows low quality hay. I work on two different farms and the hay between farms is drastically different in quality. So... I am sorry if I offended anyone.


So.. The general consensus is that it is OK as long as it is mold-free? If she won't eat it, what do I do? Someone suggested hay cubes... Would that work?

Thanks for all the responses!
 
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