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Hay shortage - use pellets instead?

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  • Hay shortage - use pellets instead?

    Having lots of trouble getting anything other than alflafa hay here in Southern California - was previously feeding half and half mix of orchard grass/alfalfa. Orchard pellets are readily availabale and less expensive - any thoughts on subbing them for one meal a day? How many scoops would be needed for the equivalent of a large flake? Thanks in advance for any insights!

  • #2
    I think giving them the hay pellets would be fine. Most people I know that use them soak them, but those pellets are usually pretty large. In terms of how many scoops what I would do is weigh your flake of hay, then feed that much of the hay pellets. So if your hay weighs 2lbs, then weigh out 2lbs hay pellets and feed those. =]


    • #3
      8-12 pounds of pellets would replace a meal. We have a local barn that does that to save $$$.


      • #4
        In this situation, I would choose cubes (soaked) instead pellets if possible...
        High Quality Tack Resale


        • Original Poster

          great...thanks! I would have to see what the storage space requirements for cubes v. pellets would be. Definitely plan on soaking. Not sure what's going on with suppliers, but the hay situation/availability here is pretty bad right now...and what you can get is uber expensive.


          • #6
            In Arizona we had big alfalfa pellets and a "lite" pellet that was mostly bermuda.

            Usually one meal was hay, the other was pellets. Everybody lived.
            ... and Patrick


            • #7
              Originally posted by JSjumper View Post
              In this situation, I would choose cubes (soaked) instead pellets if possible...
              Why cubes instead of pellets?


              • #8
                Cubes count as long-stem forage while pellets do not. So cubes can be a direct replacement for hay.

                Definitely soak them though as they can easily cause choke.


                • #9
                  Cubes still provide some stem because they are not as processed down as pellets. Stem creates more saliva, so therefore will mimick "real hay" better than pellets would.
                  "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cluck View Post
                    Cubes count as long-stem forage while pellets do not. So cubes can be a direct replacement for hay.
                    Was about to post exactly this.... if the point was simply to supplement grain/hay diet, then it wouldn't matter as much. But since your goal with the cubes/pellets would be to replace hay, you'll want to go with cubes for the long stem fiber source
                    High Quality Tack Resale


                    • #11
                      Are there any studies on this? I've heard vets say it doesn't make a difference and others say it does.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by davistina67 View Post
                        Are there any studies on this? I've heard vets say it doesn't make a difference and others say it does.
                        "Pellets go through the same manufacturing process as cubes, but they also go through a more intense grinding process. Again, different manufacturers use different mixes, binders and supplements as detailed on the labels. However, because of the smaller particle size of pellets, they have not been found to maintain a healthy digestive system. Pellets have also been linked to behavioral issues such as wood chewing and tail biting as well as increased searching and non-restful behavior. A minimal recommendation is to feed 1% of the horse’s body weight per day with hay; however, that may not be sufficient. Pellets are not recommended as a complete forage substitute"

                        Elia, JB, Erb HN, Houpt, K., “Motivation for hay: effects of a pelleted diet on behavior and physiology of horses”, Physiol Behav. 2010 Dec 2;101(5):623-7

                        Ralston, SL, Wright, B., Forage Substitutes For Horses, Government of Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 2008, http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/...cts/05-055.htm.
                        High Quality Tack Resale


                        • #13
                          Non-scientific study; just watch a bunch of horses eating cubes versus pellets (both soaked).

                          Hay cubes still require quite a bit of chew time where pellets do not.


                          • Original Poster

                            Interesting. I'm only looking to replace one meal a day w the pellets - they will still get hay at breakfast and dinner, so hopefully I won't have any issues...


                            • #15
                              Oh, you currently have 3 hay feeds per day and want to replace one with pellets? We ONLY have 2 hay feeds her per day and lunch is for supplements/pellets/sr feed etc. You shouldn't have any problem. I know the guys back east tend to be appalled at this feeding routine, but it is pretty typical, at least here in NorCal. My kids basically get 2 - 4 cups of feed/pellets at midday meal and they are all fat and sassy (appropriately not obese!). Seriously, you will be fine with pellets.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by davistina67 View Post
                                Are there any studies on this? I've heard vets say it doesn't make a difference and others say it does.

                                The references at the bottom of this bulletin will help you start that search...


                                Some of those papers will lead you to others.

                                Personally I am a pretty firm believer in the min 1% of BW coarse fiber rule. Coarse stem forages do influence chew time, as does pellet hardness (soaking also) thus diminishing saliva production and fiber particle size effects microbial activity.

                                But like all rules there are reasons to break it. Some eldery horses I rehabb'ed did better on pellets vs cubes or chopped. They were pretty far gone when they came in or suffering other health issues. Also I have family in the drought area using 100% complete feed. I did the same a few decades ago during a major drought.


                                • #17
                                  HIGHLY recommend doing each meal 50/50 hay to pellets instead of one meal of hay and one meal of pellets for a horse not used to pellet meals. A 50/50 meal will very closely replicate the normal diet because there is still a significant amount of long stem forage at normal times and with the pellets.

                                  Also check for a availability and price of bagged chopped hay or "chaff" as it's called. It can fully replace all baled hay.


                                  • #18
                                    Thanks for the links on roughage. I haven't looked at it yet but I will as I have heard most vets say it doesn't matter if you feed pellets instead of cubes and a couple have said you need the long stem forage. Thanks


                                    • #19
                                      I give my boys a mix of alfalfa and timothy/grass pellets every night. They love it! I give them a total of 6 qt each and soak them.
                                      They do much better with the pellets then they did with the cubes.

                                      This is also extra for them they still get basically free choice hay all the time. ( grass while turned out)