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OAT HAY - Insights/facts about nutritional value?

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  • OAT HAY - Insights/facts about nutritional value?

    I just bought one bale of oat hay here in the Pacific Northwest. When I first saw it I thought it looked just like straw, except there is some green mixed in and the grain is part of the hay. I was VERY skeptical about feeding it, but the sellers insisted that people's horses really like it, so I figured I'd just give it a try. Well, my horses really like it a lot, and they seem to clean it up, including the yellowish stalky, stemmy parts. I was really surprised because these horses are very picky. However, because of the yellowish color I am questioning the nutritional value of it. The horses that are eating it are just pasture ornaments. None of them are in work or pregnant, so it's just a matter of getting them through the winter. They are also easy keepers.

    Has anyone used oat hay before? What do you know about its nutritional value?


  • #2
    Originally posted by Foxdale Farm View Post
    However, because of the yellowish color I am questioning the nutritional value of it.
    it is the nature of all the small grain hays to dry off yellow...ryegrass also...it will have no bearing on the nutritional profile

    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


    • #3
      Not trying to make arguement, but my oat hay has always been green, but about half as green as my orchard grass (if that makes any sense at all ) So not a rich green, but not yellow by any means. I have been told that yellow oat hay may have been cut late, but as I do not grow the hay myself I do not see the hay precutting to determine if it is late or not. I'm sure many other factors could play a role too... curing time, humidity, stacked uncovered, ect. I would try and figure out why the hay is staw colored. The yellowest oat hay I have had was about 1/4 yellow.

      I do know the biggest concern for feeding oat hay is the nitrogen levels. Different factors can cause the oat hay to be high in nitrogen, so I have the hay tested at my local extension office before purchase (usually I pay for the hay with a contract that I can have my money back if it doesn't fit into preset limits). I have never had it too high. My hay is grown in Idaho, 10 miles from the OR border.

      I find oat hay is an excellent alternative to alfalfa in the winter for horses that get too hot on a little bit of alfalfa, but have heard of some horses getting a bit hotter on oat hay to (there are oats in it after all). Any horse I have had on oat hay has looked good. I have had concerned about developing hay bellies on oat hay, but have had more of an issue with the orchard grass for what ever reason (all nutritional testing was within normal limits and horses on a daily mulitvit, so don't everybody jump on me at once for making my horses malnourished if one get a hay belly in the winter). Otherwise for the NSC peeps, it's higher on the scale with a big range (I think good oat hay comes from knowledge, weather, and luck more than some other hays) and it seems to range from 15-30, but mostly in the mid twenties. So this would not be good for the pssm/epsm or lamnitis prone horses.

      Anyways, good luck with the hay. The best thing about oat hay (at least over here) is it's less than half the cost of equal quality orchard and alfalfa.


      • #4
        Hubby cuts some off of our farm and my horses LOVE it. As you said, it looks sort of "straw-y"... mine is fairly stalky too but they gobble it up before they eat the gorgeous orchardgrass hay, if I feed one flake of each at the same time.


        • #5
          I like using oat hay in late winter when the horses are getting a bit sick of the hay/no grass scenerio - it adds something new to the plate.

          I had some this past year that was a Timothy/Oat Hay mix that they loved - I used it for the outside hay and they cleaned up every bit.


          • #6
            I feed it frequently-Treasure gets a large haynet stuffed full to keep him busy during his stall rest. I find that they seem to take longer to eat the oat hay. My retired picky mare seems to love it (she goes through periods where she's on a hunger strike-no medical reason, just temper tantrum-y stuff) so what she eats then she gets lol.
            Michael: Seems the people who burned me want me for a job.
            Sam: A job? Does it pay?
            Michael: Nah, it's more of a "we'll kill you if you don't do it" type of thing.
            Sam: Oh. I've never liked those.