Bermuda grass, alfalfa, orchard grass, or timothy, how do you know what to feed your horse? The best way to decide is the activity of you horse, your budget, and what supplements you feed. What part of the country you live in can also play a role.
As a stand alone feed, many people choose alfalfa. It is high in fiber and high in protein, energy and calcium. Its average protein is about 16%. Horses that work a lot can do well on alfalfa without adding supplements. Timothy is another choice. It is lower in protein content with an average of about 10%. It is a good source of fiber and copper and zinc. Timothy is one of the most common hays fed to horses. It has a good balance of all the nutritional necessities. The draw back of timothy is the cost and size of the bales. They are sometimes half the size of alfalfa but can cost double. So for many horse owners it is not very economical.
Another good hay is orchard grass. It is similar to timothy but has even less protein. Bermuda grass is also popular because of the low protein and it is a good source of roughage. They are both good hays for less active horses or horses that get other supplements. They usually range between 8-10% protein.
Grazing on a form of hay is always best so that they get the natural fibers. The horse owner needs to take into consideration the horse’s activities, age, and needs. Active, working, or lactating animals have higher nutritional needs. Cost and waste are other considerations. No matter what hay you choose it should be as dust free as possible, few weeds, and is mold free. It should smell fresh and sweet and be slightly green. If you are in doubt it is always good to ask your veterinarian what she recommends.
Story By: Jennifer Strum
CLN Community & Event Sponsor