What forage do I feed my horse?
Getting the right feeding regime in place can be tricky as there are so many different factors being considered which will affect the type of feed you choose. We’re here to shine a light on the different forage feeds available and some of the key factors you need to consider.
The truth is, there are three factors which will impact on your decision to feed hay versus haylage or vice versa:
With older horses, it’s important to consider their ability to break down the forage that they will be eating – In some situations, older horses or horses with poor teeth may require a more specialist forage feed to accommodate their ability (or inability) to chew. This is something we would strongly recommend discussing with your nutritionist.
Horses who suffer from health issues such as Equine Asthma will require careful consideration to identify the type of forage which will be most appropriate. Some horse owners will often steam hay to reduce the dust particles within the forage, but this may not be necessary by purchasing hay which has already been de-dusted.
It’s also important to consider workload as this can have a significant impact on the type of forage fed to different horses. Those in a lot of work will need more energy in comparison to those who enjoy a quiet hack every now and then.
The Difference Between Hay and Haylage
Depending on how long the grass has been left to dry out before cutting, hay should have a dry matter content between 85-90%. As hay is dried out for a number of days before being picked up there is a lower nutrient content, however, by reducing the moisture there is less risk of mould and bacteria forming.
Hay will hold more fibre than haylage due to the lower moisture content and it is also lower in calories – great for horses needing to watch their weight!
Haylage has a much lower dry matter content level at around 55-65%. This is because the grass is cut and left for just 24 hours before being picked up and wrapped in airtight bale wrap – not only is the essential moisture held, but fermentation can then take place.
As the nutrients are held within the bale wrap, haylage is high in energy, calories, and protein.
What to feed my horse?
There is no one answer for all, it depends on what you are aiming to achieve with your horse. For example, for those horses doing more work, feeding haylage will increase their energy intake. However, hay tends to last much longer due to the reduced level of moisture.
The key is to find a forage which fits with you and your horses’ needs.
At Baled, we supply a range of hay, haylage and lucerne – bagged or banded. But our forage is different! All our products are cleaned so you can rest assured that your animals are being given top quality forage with no nasties.
Get in touch to find out more.