Help to Extend Your Horse Hay Supply
By Equine Guelph
When hay becomes scarce, especially during late winter and early spring, horse owners become resourceful.
With the majority of your horse’s diet consisting of forage, your hay provider and equine nutritionist are vital members of your horse’s health care team. There is no disputing the value of a hay test to balance a diet. Knowing the nutrients of your forage is important before deciding what the horse may need in the way of concentrates and/or supplements. The nutrient contents of hay fluctuate between sources and between cuts at different times a year. If you are sourcing from afar due to shortages the nutrient contents may vary considerably.
Nutrient requirements will not be the same for an idle mature horse as a performance horse, broodmare, or youngster.
Check with your nutritionist to see if it makes sense to add beet pulp to your horse’s diet. Beet pulp is high in fibre, easy to digest, and relatively high in calcium, but cannot be used as a total hay replacement.
Soaked, shredded beet pulp as a forage alternative is high in fibre, easy to digest, and will add more water into the horse’s digestive tract, which is especially important in winter months. Photo: Clix Photography
Consult your nutritionist if you are considering partially or fully replacing your horse’s forage with hay cubes or complete feeds.
Related: The Seven Deadly Sins of Haymaking
Keep your hay under cover and off the ground by storing on pallets to avoid moisture and mould.
Hay feeders keep hay from being trampled into the ground. Hay nets, particularly slow feeders with smaller holes, make mealtimes last longer and reduce waste.
Hay feeders reduce waste, and smaller-hole hay nets provide a more natural feeding option by making feeding times last longer. Photo: Clix Photography
Preserve pasture by not overstocking, and don’t allow pastures to become over-grazed.
Remember to make all feed changes gradually over a period of two weeks (including forage) and in consultation with an equine nutritionist.
Related: Winterize Your Horse Barn
Published with the kind permission of Equine Guelph.
Main Photo: iStock/Harlequin129