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Orchard grass, timothy or mix of both?

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  • Orchard grass, timothy or mix of both?

    My supply of coastal will be running out mid-April. I am planning ahead so I can start mixing hay instead of having to do a drastic switch.

    I can get timothy hay in 3x4x8 bales for $195 (supposedly weigh 1,060 pounds) or I can get 3x3x8 bales of Orchard (supposedly weigh 750 pounds for $120.) The orchard is reportedly good but does have a few weeds in it.

    I have never fed either - my horses have always just eaten pretty much free choice coastal.

    My plan is to feed whatever I get with the coastal - ideally working up to 1/2 coastal and 1/2 of the new kind of hay. I am hoping this will make my coastal last until there is a cutting in the spring. But, with the drought, it is possible I will completely run out of coastal.

    I am feeding 3 mares (ages 17, 12 and 5 - all of which are on the chubby side) and a 21 month old gelding. The mares each get 1 pound of Nutrena Safe Choice twice a day along with coastal. The gelding gets 2 pounds of Safe Choice twice a day, 1/2 pound of Calf Manna twice a day, a little alfalfa and then the coastal.

    So, would you recommend getting timothy, orchard or some of each and mix all 3 kinds of hay?

    What are the pros and cons of each kind of hay?

    TIA

  • #2
    Orchard grass is sort of the standard in our neck of the woods. (east north east) Timothy is often touted as the "ideal" or "favorite" horse hay. If I had a choice, I'd probably pick the mix. We grew some timothy years ago and, when I hit that part of the mow one winter, they all kinda got fat, LOL. It's harder to get more than one cutting of timothy around here if you don't get summer rain. First cutting is generally a couple weeks later than orchard grass to begin with. The mineral amounts and balance might cause you to adjust what else you feed, but it's very common horse hay.

    Comment


    • #3
      Nutritionally, timothy and OG are about the same. The differences will be caused by how early in the growth cycle it was cut, if everything happened just right in the drying and baling, etc. I find there is a bit more hollow stem in 1st cut timothy but OG that gets too mature can have a lot of stem too. I actually prefer to buy Brome for my horses as there is less stem, more leaf and because it come on a bit later than OG and timothy the farmer has a better chance of cutting and baling that 1st cutting a bit earlier so the 1st cutting is better. OG grows the earliest but then spring rains may delay the cutting and baling so it get coarser. Timothy comes up a bit later than OG.

      I just hate buying hay that I haven't seen and hopefully "tested" on my horses.

      chicamuxen

      Comment


      • #4
        The more variety you can feed, the better.
        ______________________________
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by JB View Post
          The more variety you can feed, the better.
          So I assume you suggest I buy both some timothy bales and some orchard grass bales and feed a mix of all 3 (including the coastal I have.)

          I am curious why it is better to mix more varieties of hay?

          I did find a chart from Univ of KY that showed coastal, timothy and orchard grass are all pretty similar as far as nutritional value goes.

          Comment


          • #6
            Most horses love timothy and our Vets really recommend it too. Mine sleep and pee in it whereas they inhale OG.

            Timothy/OG bales here in Fl sell for a premium (as does most hay)
            "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Right now, I can get timothy or orchard grass big bales (1,060 lb timothy for $195 and 750 lb orchard grass for $120) cheaper than coastal. Coastal is going for $14ish per 50 pound small bale! That is, if you can even find any horse quality coastal. Thank you, drought.

              Comment


              • #8
                We have fed both Orchard Grass and Timothy. Our horses seem to prefer Orchard Grass. It's grown in North Carolina and does not have the high transportation cost associated with Timothy.

                I think you'd be pleased with either hay ... but if your horses are like ours they'll prefer Ordhard Grass.

                Good luck!
                The other female in my husband's life has four legs

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                • #9
                  I feed mine timothy because he has an allergy to bermuda (in costal) but orchard is a good choice....price wise timothy is cheaper in this area (NC) and the quality is superb!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks everyone! I think I am going to get some of each, mix all 3 kinds of hay and see if the horses have a preference for one over the other. Maybe they will enjoy having a smorgasbord of hay! :-)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by horsegeeks View Post
                      We have fed both Orchard Grass and Timothy. Our horses seem to prefer Orchard Grass. It's grown in North Carolina and does not have the high transportation cost associated with Timothy.

                      I think you'd be pleased with either hay ... but if your horses are like ours they'll prefer Ordhard Grass.

                      Good luck!
                      same thing here, we are feeding orchard grass (3x3x8 +/- 900#) $165 .. it came from either Co or Wy

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        orchardgrass and timothy are NOT similar in quality unless the orchardgrass is cut far too late...

                        it is best early cut pre bloom and it's about 16% CP at that time and goes down from there....

                        pure timothy,however,( even if grown by God himself) cannot pass 11% CP at any time...that is it's high point and it falls from there...which is one reason that timothy was the horse standard FOREVER for this reason...that and it's dried color remained a pleasing green...

                        if you can determine where it came from that helps and always from a commercial standpoint,buy the heavier bale in the same packages...that is an indication of more leaf density (weight) and less stem(air) and more product in the package

                        Tamara
                        Last edited by Tamara in TN; Jan. 19, 2012, 09:31 AM.
                        Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                        I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by inca View Post
                          So I assume you suggest I buy both some timothy bales and some orchard grass bales and feed a mix of all 3 (including the coastal I have.)
                          If you have the ability to do that, that's what I'd do

                          I am curious why it is better to mix more varieties of hay?
                          Most (all?) hays have at least slightly different vit/min profiles. For sure they're going to vary if they are cut at different stages, are from different fields, or even from different states. So, the more variety, the more likely you are to be providing a more balanced diet

                          I did find a chart from Univ of KY that showed coastal, timothy and orchard grass are all pretty similar as far as nutritional value goes.
                          But, that probably depends on being cut at the optimal time for each.
                          ______________________________
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            wow.....I wish I could sell you all some of my orchard grass bales!!! Got tons of em, stacked to the ceiling....the horses steadfastly refuse to touch em!! Dunno why, they look pleasing, smell pleasing, feel pleasing....but all they will eat in straight timothy. So here I am, stuck with alot of Orchard grass bales they won't eat, and am scrambling to find timothy as our regular supplier ran out and only has OG hay.....I did find someone who has some timothy nearby, but their supply is not endless either.....

                            Don't understand how they can prefer the timothy which doesn't smell like anything and is stemmier than the nice, soft, fragrant, greener orchard grass.....

                            As of now, I am mixing the two and they get really peeved and will pick the timothy out and leave the OG....

                            Oh well, i try to look at the bright side, taking the time to pick through the hay to find the timothy stems means less hay eaten...and hopefully they will both drop a pound or two....

                            ....but it also means alot of wasted hay. OG hay.....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A few years ago during our drought I ended up with some compressed Timothy from Canada. The horses were looking at me like "where have you been hiding this stuff??!!!" and practically licking the ground to get it all. It smelled like a little piece of heaven.

                              That said, that's the only Timothy I've ever fed, and I do hear it's easier to get "bad" Timothy that horses won't touch, than some other grasses. True or not, I don't know, but I do know it seems like a lot of people won't feed Timothy because their horses won't touch it

                              Have you tried putting out ONLY OG for several days? During that same drought year, I also ended up with 100 bales of "some kind of" Bermuda from Texas. The horses *hated* it. It stayed in the field for what seemed like days before I noticed it being eaten to any significant degree. But, it was all I had, it was all they got, and while they obviously didn't really like it, they ended up eating most of it (granted, there was more waste than anything else I'd ever fed).
                              ______________________________
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Mah Navu View Post
                                wow.....I wish I could sell you all some of my orchard grass bales!!! Got tons of em, stacked to the ceiling....the horses steadfastly refuse to touch em!! Dunno why, they look pleasing, smell pleasing, feel pleasing....
                                I'm fighting the same battle this year and I'm in the process of negotiating with my hay guy to get rid of the Orchard Grass and replace it with something else. Right now, if I put two flakes in each stall in the evening, I still have two mostly intact flakes left in the morning. In talking to the hay guy, his explanation is that sometimes OG can get bitter if cut and baled late. It will smell and look fine to humans, but the mares don't like the bitter taste at all.

                                *star*
                                "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                                - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Hmmm... its interesting reading these posts.

                                  We've been thrilled with the Orchard Grass hay we've bought. But we buy almost entirely from one farmer about an hour from us.

                                  We need to restock now and we're getting a Timothy/Orchard Grass mix out of the PA/NY area. We've tried it and our horses like it. (Our source of Orchard Grass has sold all his square bales. )

                                  To a large extent I think what you can successfully feed is a combination of your horse's taste and the source of the hay.

                                  I'm very interested in trying Teff hay. But I'm afraid to feed anything but Orchard Grass and Timothy hay fearing that our "problem child" would colic on that too! Besides its still hard to find in our area ... and I don't like the idea of switching feeds.
                                  The other female in my husband's life has four legs

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Someone near-ish you has grown Teff in the last few years, darned if I can remember his name. I know a couple of folks who got his hay and said the horses LOVED it.
                                    ______________________________
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      JB, yea...we tried using only the Orchard grass....and like Shoten Star said, it is left mostly intact by morning....Our OTTB will nibble at it, the draft won't even look at it...PERIOD.

                                      *sigh* i remember the good old days when we first bought our OTTB,...he was an emaciated body score 2 then and ate his orchard grass at the facility he was at as if it was manna from heaven. 2 years later he is so fat people think he's an Appendix, and he no longer thinks he should be FORCED to eat orchard grass.

                                      Our draft never had to deal with starvation and thinks it is her God given right to have timothy......and nothing else. She went a full day without eating one blade of it....we felt as if we were in a battle of wills, playing "chicken" so to speak, and we turned first. I know, shame on us. She's a fat lump of a horse and going a day or two without food, if she could have held out that long, would have done her some good in the weight department.....but we just didn't have the fortitude to wait her out.


                                      so now i am stuck with a stall full of bales of nice looking orchard grass stacked to the ceiling....while the "timothy stall" needs constand replenishment...and is in short supply in my area.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The farmer we get our Orchard Grass hay from has been growing Teff for the last couple of years. He sells out of it quickly ... so even if we switched to it, our barn is not big enough to hold all the hay we need to get through until the next growing season. I don't like switching from "know quantity" hay.

                                        We have a mare that colics easily and I'm really afraid to try anything she hasn't been on before.

                                        Mah Navu,

                                        Our horses are all convinced a famine is coming so nothing is ever left available. Our draft, in particular, is a determined to never go hungry again .... wait ... she never has!

                                        Another mare comes into the stall and puts her head down in the feed trough so fast I'm always expecting to see cuts an bruises on her lips. You can stand outside her stall and hear the "thunk" when her head hits the bottom of the trough.
                                        The other female in my husband's life has four legs

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