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Choosing the Right Hay

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  • Choosing the Right Hay

    Hello all...I'm a new soul around here needing some horsey consults again in my life After school and the real world swamping me down, plus two horses in a row developing illness, I am starting fresh. I have recently just purchased my 'dream horse,' again, am about to graduate. Anyway.

    I have just recently purchased a filly (8 months) who is from Canada, and has only ever eaten timothy/alfalfa. At the past barn I managed, we fed this as both a mix of T/A and Coastal (which is the most prodominate hay here in South Carolina) so I'm very familiar with it. However, the farm I will be moving her to currently feeds coastal round bales. I will obviously be transitioning her slow, but because she's so big (she looks like she'll finish around 17.2, she's a BIG. baby) I am nervous about swapping totally to coastal because of its low nutritional value.

    Despite having owned horses here in the southeast for many years (and feeding them coastal) I guess I'm just feeling a tad paranoid, since I've never owned such a big baby who's going to need a LOT of supplemental nutrition. In addition to this, my last two horses (though the situations were purely coincidental) developed horrendous cases of anhidrosis unmanageable by anything (1AC, beer, fans, misters, you name it) and had to be sold northwards to keep them happy. So to pour my heart into a new 'dream baby' that I plan to keep for many years has left me feeling like a mother...totally overprotective.

    Any personal opinions on T/A, Costal, your experiences with growing babies here in the southeast? Is it worth keeping her isolated in a paddock away from buddies while she eats hay in order to keep her on T/A? (Since I won't very well be able to afford to convert the whole barn, not at 12-13 dollars a bale!)

    Opinions from the very paranoid horse owners much appreciated

  • #2
    Originally posted by irkenequine View Post

    Is it worth keeping her isolated in a paddock away from buddies while she eats hay in order to keep her on T/A? (Since I won't very well be able to afford to convert the whole barn, not at 12-13 dollars a bale!)
    yes of course...look at a very good hay as a compliment to her grain...would you let the whole pen of horses in to have a bite of her grain ? no...good hay is the same...give a set time to eat <x> and then send her back out with the rif-raf...collect remnants and feed again later

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


    • Original Poster

      Yes, but I wonder if feeding T/A flakes twice a day and then her picking at coastal roundbales the rest of the time is sound for her digestion? Although I'm an experienced horse owner, this is only my second baby I'll be raising from scratch and my first that's imported, so I do not know as well their tolerance for trying new things/swapping hays/diversity in their diet, most especially during the wintertime.


      • #4
        As long as she is eating the same hay each day, she will develop the proper gut bacteria to digest it. It's when they go several weeks on one type of hay and the gut bacteria changes and then you change hay and the gut doesn't have the proper bacteria to deal with the change that is the problem.

        You don't want her to grow too fast. Horses are designed to eat 12-13% protien forage. Alfalfa can be as high at 20%. So I would think mixing some coastal in with the higher protien alfalfa would be good.

        Take some of the hay and send it off and get a nutrition analysis done. get the horse weighed and feed her appropriately based up her weight and the nutritional value of the hay you have.


        • Original Poster

          Yes thankfully its not straight alfalfa, I fed tightly packed, shredded alfalfa at my old farm to a few horses...couldn't believe how high energy it was.

          You're definitely right Painted Horse, I am nervous about high fat content as well. Thankfully she's only ever been on a pellet, and never on sweet feed, so I can continue with that. I suppose I should stop fretting and realize that thousands of horses eat only coastal every day...but I kind of got the 'I'd sooner die than feed coastal' impression from her previous owner, who had her hay sent from Canada, and I let that bug bite me again :P