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Bluegrass Hay? PNW area

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  • Bluegrass Hay? PNW area

    What's the skinny on bluegrass? Where we lived before it wasn't a type of grass/hay that we ever encountered. Our hay guy has a bunch of it for a pretty good price; horses have been on alfalfa/timothy but we're getting low on it. I anticipate a drop in protein and we can add in a little alfalfa to make up for that but is there anything else I should know?

    Thanks!
    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey
  • Original Poster

    #2
    I'll start to answer my own question, just in case someone else ever wants to know more about bluegrass hay! Just picked it up today; it's wispy and short-stemmed, the seed heads have been cut off but some are still around so it looks a little bit like a short timothy. I doubt it has much protein so we'll top it off with some of our alfalfa but so far it looks like nice clean hay.

    I'll report back after the horses have been on it for while.
    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

    Comment


    • #3
      We fed a bluegrass hay we'd get from hauler/hay broker "Barnes" in Junction City Oregon. I think* it was grown over in the K Falls area. It was really nice: clean, fine, and the horses didn't waste a bite. We fed it for quite a few years and the horses looked great on it. They only sold it in the big 6-700# square bales and our new barn isn't set up for that, otherwise I'd drive clear up there to get it.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        We got it in one of those big squares too-more of a pain to feed but for $100/ton we're happy to deal with it. Hay is getting scarce!

        Glad you had good luck with it; I think we will too!
        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

        Comment


        • #5
          Its the straw leftover from seed production. Have seen a few tests. Tends to be low in protein and sugar. Heard that easy keepers do good on it.
          Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            That's exactly what it is-how low in protein, do you remember? I don't exactly have easy keepers right now; we'll be supplementing the bluegrass with alfalfa and feed but I don't want to fall behind.
            “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

            Comment


            • #7
              Very hard to say without seeing your batch tested. But I'm remembering lower than what you'd want to feed straight to working or growing horses. But if you feed 25% alfalfa, and a ration balancer, should be fine.
              Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org

              Comment


              • #8
                What you got does sound like the "straw" left after the seed was harvested. When we've gotten it in the past at a previous barn, this stuff did test low NSC but was also poorly received by our pickier horses. A lot of the western folks liked it as they tend to feed it plus alfalfa.

                We have also gotten some super nice bluegrass hay in the past that was grown and harvested as hay and not a byproduct of seed production. Fine stemmed, green, clean, and very palatable according to our horses. Never had it tested, but most horses stayed fat and happy with just it and very little grain. I believe it came out of Oregon, but not sure where. I rarely see it advertised for sale - most of it is the byproduct stuff instead.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by horsepoor View Post
                  We have also gotten some super nice bluegrass hay in the past that was grown and harvested as hay and not a byproduct of seed production.
                  This is not a good assumption. Better to ask. Sometimes seed growers will salvage a crop for hay for various reasons. Weeds and infection with ergot after a wet spring are common reasons. You would not want to feed it to horses with ergot. This is only a possible issue in the PNW or New Zealand were grass seed production is prevalent.
                  http://www.vetinst.no/eng/Facts/All-...oxic-sclerotia
                  Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    The horses are pretty "meh" about it... it's not nearly as nice as the alfalfa/timothy they were getting before! We'll see if it's worth getting more. They're out looking for tiny blades of grass instead of finishing what they got fed last night so that's not exactly a resounding recommendation!

                    Thanks for the ergot info-we did indeed have a long wet spring last year. I'll pay attention to that; I trust my hay guy and the seeds are cut from it but it's good to know.
                    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      No, Horsepoor is correct--bluegrass is grown in the Willamette valley for both grass seed (the "straw" version) and as a hay crop. You need to find out before you buy, but there are farmers putting it up that way. I've seen it on both CL and in the Capitol Press advertised. It does well on the westside apparently. Some of the straw versions are god-awful! Buyer beware.
                      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Katy Watts View Post
                        This is not a good assumption. Better to ask. Sometimes seed growers will salvage a crop for hay for various reasons. Weeds and infection with ergot after a wet spring are common reasons. You would not want to feed it to horses with ergot. This is only a possible issue in the PNW or New Zealand were grass seed production is prevalent.
                        http://www.vetinst.no/eng/Facts/All-...oxic-sclerotia
                        The bluegrass hay was from a different area than where seed is produced. Might have been Klamath area, or was CA, but definitely not Willamette Valley. From one grower that did not grow seed, just hay. Our barn was pretty much buying all he produced, IIRC. The year he decided to switch to another crop left our barn scrambling to find hay, and I've not seen a good bluegrass hay since that place.

                        My SO is an ag economist and was floored the first time he saw some horse people buying the seed byproduct stuff for prices rivaling other true hay. He did graduate work for Willamette Valley seed growers trying to find a market for the stuff as they needed a new way (besides burning) to get rid of it. It was too unpalatable and of little nutritional value so they had a hard time finding a market as feed. I'm sure the work he did encompassed all grass seed varieties, not just the bluegrass.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Our horses don't like it; I'm sure we'll end up feeding it out to the cows as filler. I could probably force them onto it but I always hate to do that.

                          Our hay guy was very clear that this is not high quality feed; he made no secrets about it at all and we knew it wasn't going to be primo stuff. Since we have cows and goats and rabbits and a couple guinea pigs we knew it wouldn't go to waste if it wasn't a big hit. It was worth a shot for the good price but if they don't eat it there's not much good to it.
                          “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Bluegrass Straw is quite different than the Bluegrass Hay. Not only does the hay still have the seed in it but it differs in how it is harvested. Bluegrass Hay is treated like any other hay. It is swathed before full seed maturity, cured (left to dry), and baled. Bluegrass Straw on the other hand is not swathed until the seed heads are at full maturity and starting to dry. It is then cured for about a week until the moisture drops to 10%. Next it is combined and most of the seed is removed. While the straw is ready to be bailed immediately after combining, it is a by-product and not a high priority. I have seen it bailed within hours of combining or up to a week later. I have found the longer that it takes to get baled affects the value of the feed.

                            Bluegrass Straw averages a protein between 9-13%. Its relative feed value varies between 85-115, of course depending on how it was grown and harvested. It is mostly used as a cattle feed filler to stretch out Alfalfa.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Certainly worth trying, and the price was right. If I could easily get hold of some, I'd have it tested and give it a try on my IR horse as it would be a good busy hay/ filler for him. Trying to find low NSC hay for him has been challenging! Hopefully your hay guy can find you something better. We just had to scramble to find some hay as i had a bunch go bad and this time of year is not fun, so I can sympathize.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Has anybody had problems feeding bluegrass? My TB mare got the runs and we fed her beet pulp to fix her up. Dealer said that some horses do not tolerate it well....?
                                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  For what it's worth, and it may not be much, my hay guy said his cows got the runs if he fed only the bluegrass with no alfalfa. He said he thought they needed the roughage of the alfalfa to "bind" them up. Different critter but similar theme.
                                  “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                                    Has anybody had problems feeding bluegrass? My TB mare got the runs and we fed her beet pulp to fix her up. Dealer said that some horses do not tolerate it well....?
                                    My horse that gets loose on orchard did well on the bluegrass. He can have timothy, teff, bluegrass, but orchard makes him squirt. Seemed to be well tolerated in our barn then as I don't recall any issues.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      My gelding also gets the runs/squirts with orchard grass. I'm switching him over to timothy andblue grass; we'll see how that goes.
                                      Yogurt - If you're so cultured, how come I never see you at the opera? Steven Colbert

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        We feed tons and tons of bluegrass straw to our cattle. It is a filler.

                                        I have never seen a bluegrass crop salvaged as hay instead of being harvested for the seed crop. I am sure it happens, though.

                                        Bluegrass straw varies widely in quality. If you run the hay baler right behind the combine, you can get some nice, palatable stuff. If the straw sits a while, it can get yucky.

                                        Some years, I have it for my horses to eat as a filler, our orchard/timothy hay is super premium, high quality stuff and the horses don't need a lot to meet their nutritional needs, so they do want to chew on something. But some years, they eat it and some years, they don't. If there is a bit of green, and no moldy smell....they MIGHT like it. If it's yellowy and moldy, they for sure won't like it.

                                        As far as other grass seed crop residue, I know that feeding ryegrass straw is a huge risk because of the 'fescue toxicity' issue. A rancher in Eastern Oregon lost a lot of cows when their hooves fell off, from the ergot in the ryegrass straw.

                                        So, you could watch Central Oregon craigslist in late July or August, when they harvest grass straw. There are a few people putting it up well, in small bales, mostly in the Madras area.

                                        Comment

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