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PNW Cothers - Timothy vs Orchard Grass for Easy Keeper

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  • PNW Cothers - Timothy vs Orchard Grass for Easy Keeper

    I'm getting ready to order my annual supply of hay for the loft, and am wondering if I should do something different this year.

    The gelding I keep at home is a relatively easy keeper that lives alone. I've always fed Eastern WA 2nd cut orchard grass hay but I'm finding that he gets bored when he's on the dry lot even with a small hole hay net. He gets ~15# per day - a bit more when it's really cold/wet - and any more than that he starts to plump up.

    The barn that I board my other gelding at feeds Eastern WA timothy. I've noticed that the timothy takes longer for them to eat as it's coarser than the OG, but I'm not sure about the nutritional content.

    I'm considering ordering 50/50 of both and mixing them together, but not sure if that will result in the OG being eaten and the Timothy being spread around?

    Anyone up here prefer one over the other for easy keepers? Anyone mix the two?

  • #2
    I prefer timothy over orchard when I can get it, but I am probably in the minority, or so it seems since most of what you see sold for horses here is orchard. Can't say that one is better than the other nutritionally as that can vary so much by grower/cut/conditions. I test my hay since I have an IR horse and last year's orchard and timothy from one place was pretty much the same for numbers, with the orchard slightly higher in protein and sugars, but both acceptable for my IR horse. I think that was a little unusual, as I seem to recall that timothy is supposed to be higher protein than orchard, but that's why testing is so useful as there is so much variation.

    I do sometimes mix as right now I have some orchard that I'm using up -- only one of mine can have it as my IR horse can't as it isn't tested and another one gets diarrhea if he has any orchard -- and I'm giving the one fatty that can and will eat anything a mix of orchard, local grass (stemmy filler stuff), and timothy, and he does eat it all. He'll hoover up the orchard right away, wait to see if he will get more, munching some on the timothy -- when that is done, he pouts until I leave the barn, then he eats the local.

    If I can find a nice first cutting timothy that they eat, I do prefer it as the coarser stuff does seem to take longer to eat and slows the chubby ones down. I also use the local hay as a filler to keep them busy but not get them fat. I've been able to get some nice local the last couple of years, but that isn't always the case (haven't found any yet this year, but now that things are drying out, maybe they'll be cutting finally).

    Comment


    • #3
      Timothy.

      The other thing about orchard out here, I've seen, is that some horses tend to get really irritated guts- especially the greener shredded-paper-money type you see that looks beautiful. It happened to a couple of my horses in different barns on separate occasions, in addition to a few others at other barns I've boarded at - people have moved their horses to our barn just because we feed timothy to get away from the runny poo syndrome. Switch to timothy seems to cure it.

      My barn switched over to timothy 5 years ago and hasn't looked back. It does take longer to eat, no one has weight issues and we have 40 horses of various ages and in heavy work, light work or retired.

      May or may not apply to you- but just something to consider in addition to keeping your horse in good weight!
      My blog: Change of Pace - Retraining a standardbred via dressage

      Comment


      • #4
        What about getting local grass hay for his hay bags? You could have orchard grass for one meal a day and the local for munching.

        Our horses eat solely local grass hay but I know that's unusual. One of the first things I heard about when I moved to Western WA was the Evils of Local Hay. Personally don't see it. YMMV!
        Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
        Starman

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        • #5
          For an easy keeper, I'd go with timothy as well. I had a 1/2 Arab gelding who was so easy to keep it made things difficult. He couldn't have much local or orchard grass or he'd blow right up. But I was able to get some decent timothy and he could have easily twice as much without weight issues. And it kept him mentally a lot happier too.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JoZ View Post
            What about getting local grass hay for his hay bags? You could have orchard grass for one meal a day and the local for munching.

            Our horses eat solely local grass hay but I know that's unusual. One of the first things I heard about when I moved to Western WA was the Evils of Local Hay. Personally don't see it. YMMV!
            That is what I do....I'm in W Oregon, not WA, but I feed local hay in the slow feeders for all day snacking. Not just any local pasture hay because most of that is fescue and way too high in sugar. I feed a late cut valley grown bentgrass hay. The hard keeper horse also gets a flake of 1st cutting orchard at night when he is separated from the fatties.

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            • #7
              Timothy. From what I've been told Orchard Grass can have pretty wildly varying sugar levels from bale to bale and it really upsets my retired guy's stomach.

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              • #8
                I'd go with timothy, given the chance.
                COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

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                • #9
                  Timothy -- my favorite horse hay!
                  "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    data here:

                    http://www.safergrass.org/pdf/AAEPposter.pdf

                    All common cool season grasses have the potential for high sugar. It's more about growing conditions than species.
                    Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thanks all. I think I'm going to get a few bales of timothy from my hay guy to test out and see what he thinks of it. Assuming that goes well (and slows him down) I'll likely order 50/50 for the year.

                      I'd go with local, but I've never found any around here that's really worth it, and I'm not set-up to haul my own from farther away. We've got a loft and no hay elevator and while we've gotten it up there with brute force before, I'd much rather have my hay delivered, loaded, and stacked for me.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'd vote for the local as well. My first year up here I fed E Wa hay with some local (which was terrible), then I found a local grower that knows how to put up great hay. He has a 2nd cutting orchard mix that can rival any of the E WA hays..... I then found that his hay was too good for my fatties and I had to restrict their intake too much... So then I went to local hays, they can have all they want and don't get fat....just have to make sure it is clean. And I can get it delievered and stacked too! If I have one that needs a better hay, I'll feed the good stuff, but this works out pretty well.... The only other thing I feed is a mineral supplement (CA trace right now).
                        Turn off the computer and go ride!

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                        • #13
                          I haven't found a good supply of timothy, and my boy hates stemmy hay, so I just go with orchard. I've never had the runs crop up with any of my horses, but certainly know a few who are so effected.

                          I haven't found any local that my horses don't waste, so I stick with better quality eastern hays. Both of my horses are hard keepers, so weight is not an issue.
                          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If you find a good local grass hay person, become their stalker.

                            Seriously, good local hay is worth it for the fatties. My barn grows their own local hay and it's generally good (I dunno about this year, it got too long before cutting due to weather), and my gelding is a chubster on daytime grass in his <1 acre paddock and no grain, just hay. So is his mini-donk friend.

                            Our other two get the orchard/alf mix and are fine on it.
                            COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                            "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I wish that calories weren't an issue around here!

                              Back with a clarifying question. I called my hay guy to ask about Timothy for the year and he's recommending first cut over second cut if what I'm looking for is chew time (with good nutrition of course). Any further opinions? I will pick up a bale or two to taste test before I order tonnage.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                For what you want (more chew time), I'd go with the first cut. It should be stemmier and take longer to eat. It is what I try to get when I have a choice.

                                Can I ask, just curious, where's the timothy coming from (where grown) and how much are you paying? So much of it goes for export (both foreign and domestic), it can sure be hard to find and the prices have been high. I just brought in 3 tons and it was well over $300/ton (delivered), but it tested low NSC for my IR guy and theywere almost sold out, so I bit the bullet and did it.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  It's coming from EWA via my hay guy in Stanwood, WA. It's this year's cut, $320/ton delivered and stacked in my loft (22 to the ton). He's quoting me $340/ton for the 2nd cut orchard (16 to the ton). I didn't ask pricing on the 2nd cut Timothy since we established that I really wanted 1st cut.

                                  I've never gotten a bad bale from him in 3 deliveries. PM me if you want his contact info.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by UrbanHennery View Post
                                    It's coming from EWA via my hay guy in Stanwood, WA. It's this year's cut, $320/ton delivered and stacked in my loft (22 to the ton). He's quoting me $340/ton for the 2nd cut orchard (16 to the ton). I didn't ask pricing on the 2nd cut Timothy since we established that I really wanted 1st cut.

                                    I've never gotten a bad bale from him in 3 deliveries. PM me if you want his contact info.
                                    Thank you, but I would bet your guy would laugh at me due to the distance (down by Portland). If only I could buy large amounts, then it might be worth someone's time to haul down, but we just don't have that much storage room...darn it.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Oh good lord the prices... <faint>
                                      COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                                      "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Jenners--I'm already with my fainting salts for when I call my hay man to see what 2nd cut orchard/alfalfa is going to run me...sigh....

                                        Local grass is going for $3/bale (65lb.) right now, and this fabulous weather is bringing the hay makers out in force! Orchard in Central Oregon (CL ads) is running $200-230 ton (100lb+bales), so I expect to pay $250/ton out of his hay sheds here in the Portland area. Hay Man brings it in by the semi-load for his customers here.

                                        If only I had a 6 ton hay trailer...
                                        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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