View Full Version : Hays that are easier to chew?

Jul. 24, 2010, 07:19 AM
My older gelding as very worn down, back teeth - they are worn to the gums and hollowed out - in other words, we don't think they can get worse. He is "around 20" although prior owner claimed he was 13. His teeth have been this way since I got him 3 yrs. ago. He has always been able to chew hay, but it just takes him longer. He loves alfalfa and is fine on it - typically it's easier for him to chew and he chooses it over the other hay our barn uses. Lately, I have noticed him quidding more hay - I typically find 2 or 3 small balls or "clumps" of partially chewed hay on the ground in his stall. In the winter he will eat round bale hay in the field if "he must" but prefers when we throw the alfalfa out to him.

I am concerned that this winter I may need to start looking for other alternatives for him. I know I can soak cubes but prefer to find him a softer hay - interestingly he turns his nose up at alfalfa cubes, but I can get him to eat tim-alf. mixed cubes soaked with his feed. (He is on TC Senior). My trainer suggested starting to call around and to look for "softer hays" that I can then order myself. I board at a lovely barn that is more than accommodating (small, private - few geldings only).

I know zero about hays except alfalfa and timothy. What types of hay should I be looking for? Which would be easiest to chew? The lower quality round bale hay is the worst for him - anything straw-like he won't even attempt. Last year he did eat from the nice round bales our barn got, but the alfalfa we have is still much easier for him to eat. I'd like to find even easier/softer if I can. He grazes and eats grass with no issues.

Ideas or types? BTW, we are in northern VA.

PS - we tried the chopped forage from TC - even the one with the molasses sprayed on - he hated it.

Jul. 24, 2010, 09:30 AM
I have found 2nd cutting orchard grass to be one of the softer hays. My guys love it.

Tamara in TN
Jul. 24, 2010, 01:18 PM
Which would be easiest to chew? The lower quality round bale hay is the worst for him - anything straw-like he won't even attempt. .

well for me and I have/had several quidders the "softness" of the hay will not really matter...quidding is not so much about tough hay but the pockets in the mouth from a lack of teeth causing the balling effect of the hay...his turning his nose up at low quality hay should not be considered as part of his quidding problem(imo)

what worked for us with some of them, was not so much the "softness" but what the cattle people call "chop length"...the smaller the chop we could get, the less the long stems wrapped around one another and made the balls as they were chewing...but that is very labor intensive and most people will simply not do it opting for senior feeds and nothing else

Tamara in TN

Jul. 24, 2010, 04:27 PM
I've had good luck with TNT Chops at TSC. It is chopped alfalfa and timothy - very fine and easy for the toothless oldies to eat..

Jul. 24, 2010, 08:56 PM
an orchard grass alfalfa mix would probably be ideal esp if you can get 4th cutting...usually the 3rd/4th cuttings are the nicest/finest hay.

Doesn't Lucerne make a chopped hay product? Can't remember the brand...could be lucerne, but I used Fibre Gold, a low starch chopped hay...this will be expensive. Though, you could look into a hay chopper and chop your own hay. I have no clue what they cost, but a 40lb bag of the High Fibre Gold was around $18. I used to know a place that sold timothy pellets and orchard grass pellets. The thing I worry about with most prechopped hay products, pellets, and cubes is that they are often treated with a preservative, and this preservative has been known to contribute to ulcers....cubes and pellets contain binding agents as well, so it is something to take into consideration...though, eat v. not eat?? I guess I'd weigh in on the benefits of my horse being able to properly eat/digest his food first! Good luck!

Jul. 24, 2010, 10:22 PM
Another vote for orchard grass; bluegrass is also nice and fine, albeit expensive.

Soaked alfalfa or alfalfa/timothy cubes are great for the oldies, as well as soaked beet pulp. I know that beet pulp has its detractors, but it's a great way to get fiber into a horse who eats minimal hay.

The added benefit of feeding soaked stuff: it's a great way to hide supplements.

Jul. 24, 2010, 10:35 PM
Ditto late orchard, and also trying it chopped.

Jul. 26, 2010, 09:08 AM
I have an old gelding that has the same problem... although he eats TC chopped forage just fine... I make a soup out of his beet pulp, and XTN then dump it over his chopped hay. As for the square bales I buy to feed him and the rest of the horses, I like to seek out hay farmers who make processed hay (it is chopped shorter and baled). My hay guy makes both processed Timothy and Orchard grass. Love it!

Jul. 26, 2010, 04:08 PM
I fed my 27 year old mare soaked timothy/Alfalfa cubes all winter and she did so well on them that I'll be feeding them permanently if she ever gets to where she cannot eat grass anymore. For now I only have to feed it in the winter when the grass is gone and the others are on hay. She looked fantastic coming out of winter this year.