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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I always thought that "hay belly" was sort of a figure of speech. Then they put round bales in our pasture, and now Moonshine's hay belly is back.

Does this give me any useful information? Does it suggest that her digestion is less than stellar? No one else out there has a hay belly. She has always had a sort of hay belly, off and on, but I've never tied it to actual hay consumption before.
 

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I always thought hay belly was associated to poor nutrition or imbalances in nutrition. Do you get the hay tested? Perhaps your horse is not getting enough protein?

Is this good quality hay?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I always thought hay belly was associated to poor nutrition or imbalances in nutrition. Do you get the hay tested? Perhaps your horse is not getting enough protein?

Is this good quality hay?
I doubt the quality of the hay is that good. But they do still have pasture, and whenever i bring them in I give them alfalfa, plus I let them graze the lawn. But now when they're out in their pasture they mostly just sit around a hay bale stuffing their faces.

I'm not going to get it tested because it's the BO who brings it in and I doubt she would change her mind even if it turned out to not be the best hay (I'm guessing it was pretty cheap). But... having said that... IDK, maybe it would change the supplements I gave them. I've already started Moonshine on some leftover protein pellets I had from Teddy.
 

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Hay belly often is associated with a worm load, not enough protein in the diet and or gas buildup in the gut distending the belly..

Although horses in the wild survived on poorer quality forage, well it was poorer quality and at that time the horses also looked poorer in condition...goes hand in hand.
Today many of our wild horses also run on areas where cattle roam and ranchers do improve the grass by planting better quality, they do fertilize it somehow and our animals, even wold look better because of it.

You say it was there, then went away and now returned...
Change the hay fed by supplier?
Is what you are feeding a enriched grass/hay from ground fertilized and now this hay is from other fields or not as well maintained nutrients fed into the ground?

I found a article excerpt link below to the online course if you want to try to access it..
The instructor at that feed lecture has this to say about hay belly...
"Hay belly is most likely the result of feeding a poor quality forage source. The large intestine retains the poor quality forage longer than a better quality forage source in an attempt to try and absorb as much nutritional value from it as possible. This is what gives the horse the large belly appearance. If the horse is fed better quality forage the large intestine will gradually become less distended and the hay belly will disappear."
That came from here, https://www.coursera.org/browse/health/animal-health , it was a question and answer period after the course was instruction finished...
This is online courses of study about animal health, equine specific...

Now the other piece of that is....in the early 80's beet pulp came on the radar of many horse owners to feed their animals. At that time beet pulp was used to fatten cattle, add the pounds to tip the scale as the cattle were being dressed, weight pumped on them fast and quick...
So, horse owners thought, fast weight gain and cheap our horses will look great.
Major backfire...horses gained weight...right in the belly, a cheap hay belly on so many of them cause it was not a higher protein level that horses needed versus what a cow with their ruminant stomachs could digest with better results...
So many here swear by feed pounds of beet pulp instead of, in place of ...it won't do you wrong...
I beg to differ cause I saw what it can do...
I don't know what you feed your horses, often hay rolls unless specifically rolled for horse hay...is lower quality cow hay and you get ...hay belly. Farmers sell rolls of hay "Its been barn stored so horse hay...no horse hay is better quality than cow hay if you have a good haymen he not mix his improved with his average field grass grown..."
I speak of this as first-hand experience learned...one of the barns I worked at did this...we cut back on the feed bill but ended up with a bunch of boney-backed, wide bellied, waddling horses...not so nice.
For this reason, you won't catch a bag of beet pulp in my barn, in any form!.
You will find it in my feed cause it is processed and to me that means a ton of difference in the product and what that product accomplishes..as part of a recipe of ingredients.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So, this is the barn owner who brought this hay in. She told me it was Tifton hay, whereas they had been getting coastal Bermuda grass hay before. I'm sure she got this stuff because it was cheaper than what she was feeding before. Like I said, when I bring them in I give them alfalfa hay now (I had tapered it off in the spring because they were all either at a good weight or too fat), but given that they spend most of their day out in the pasture eating that hay, I'm not sure how much difference I'm making. I will say that Moonshine was losing a bit of topline as well, which started maybe a couple of months ago.

Given that I can't change what they are getting fed in the pasture, is there anything else I can do? Or is it not really something to worry about? I mean, it looks gross but if it's not hurting her maybe I don't have to worry about it?
 

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You said you started feeding a protein supplement to one of the horses...give it a 7 -14 days and see where you are.
If adding protein makes a visible difference then you know what needs done.

Coastal and Tifton are from the same broad family of Brome grass hay.
Some Coastal hay is finer stems, some is coarser same as Tifton is.
Coastal comes in different strains which is the protein level, again nearly identical to look at.
There is also different strains of Tifton from 8, 44 and 85 and those numbers correlate to protein levels and digestibility yet it all looks the same to the eye I have been told.
All these hays mentioned very closely resemble eat other so truly knowing what it is she bought...
She bought cheap as you know and it is showing.
Add to those Jiggs which is widely grown in Texas and sold their for animal feed but I know nothing about it as I have not come across it myself to feed it. {My hay guy delivers to my home so I rarely am in the hay store searching for anything}
Depending upon what exactly the barn owner bought is going to have impact on your horses long term...and if they were only eating a lesser quality of hay it takes a bit of time to show but when it shows...it shows.
Pasture, depending upon rains, how much & how often can also leach nutrients from the ground in a hurry...so many things to make us nuts when feeding.

I found you these articles with a brief description of the differences in hays specific...
I've looked at Coastal and thought it Tifton and then looked at Tifton and thought it was Coastal at our ag extension office...so very hard to tell.
https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=8064438
https://agrilife.org/agnewsandviews/2018/05/07/what-is-coastal-tifton-85-and-jiggs/
https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C919&title=Selecting%20a%20Forage%20Bermudagrass%20Variety
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Coastal is a Bermuda if I am not mistaken Tifton is a hybrid between Bermuda and an African bush grass.

How it is grown has an effect on the quality.
 
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