Do horses eat hay

Many pleasure and trail horses don’t need grain: good-quality hay or pasture is sufficient. If hay isn’t enough, grain can be added, but the bulk of a horse’s calories should always come from roughage. Horses are meant to eat roughage, and their digestive system is designed to use the nutrition in grassy stalks.

Do horses eat hay or straw?

While quality hay and pasture grass are the ideal sources of forage for most horses, there are some cases in which eating straw is a suitable alternative or supplement. “Yes, horses can eat straw,” said equine nutritionist, Shannon Pratt-Phillips, PhD.

Why can’t horses eat hay?

On the other hand, horses might refuse to eat hay that is moldy, old, coarse and stemmy, or full of weeds. Not every horse needs the abundant nutrients in alfalfa (lucerne), but a flake or two of alfalfa blended into a pile of clean grass hay will often enhance the taste of this offering.

Do horses prefer hay or grass?

While most horses do well and thrive on a grass hay diet, other horses with different needs and medical conditions are better suited to being fed a diet of grass/alfalfa mix, or an exclusively all alfalfa. … Feeding Grass vs Alfalfa Hay.

Grass HayAlfalfa Hay
Calcium (Ca)0.28-0.75%1-4.39%

Can you feed horses grass hay?


Grass Hay for Horses Kentucky bluegrass, orchardgrass and timothy are all examples of common grasses used for hay. Benefits: Grass hay is lower in protein and energy than legume hay — but it’s also higher in fiber, which can make it a good choice for many horses.

Why horses should not eat straw?

If horses eat a large volume of straw, this lignin fiber accumulates in the digestive system and it can plug (impact) the digestive system. This results in severe colic and even death if not properly treated. Horses that are well- fed normally do not eat large volumes of straw bedding.

Is it OK to feed straw to horses?

Do horses eat straw? Although straw is often not the most palatable source of fibre, most horses will eat it, particularly if they are on a restricted diet. It can easily be mixed in with hay and soaked or steamed if necessary.

Why can’t horses eat mowed grass?

Feeding lawn clippings will dramatically upset the balance of microbes in the hindgut, potentially leading to colic or laminitis, as the amount of highly fermentable carbohydrates in regularly clipped lawns is dangerously high. Excessive intake results in a high rate of fermentation in the hindgut.

Why do horses go off hay?

Horses go off their feed for a variety of reasons which can include illness, unpalatable feeds or gastrointestinal disturbances such as hindgut acidosis. Thankfully though, there are some things you can do to get a horse eating again.

What can you feed horses instead of hay?

Six Hay Alternatives for Horses

  1. Bagged chopped forage. It can replace all of your horse’s hay, if necessary.
  2. Hay cubes. Chopped cubed hay (usually alfalfa or timothy or a combination) is another 100-percent replacement. …
  3. Hay pellets. …
  4. “Complete” feed. …
  5. Beet pulp. …
  6. Soybean hulls.

Do horses need hay when on pasture?

Consider the amount of hay or pasture your horse gets: Horses who are grazing on good pasture the majority of the day don’t need much hay, if any. Horses who don’t get much turnout or aren’t on good pasture will need more hay, whether they are inside or out.

Is hay enough for horses?

Some horses will need their hay diet restricted to prevent obesity. Such horses should be fed small, more frequent portions. For many horses, hay is all they need, and they won’t need concentrates such as oats or sweet feed, or particularly rich hay that contains legumes like clover and alfalfa.

Is alfalfa the same as hay?

One of the biggest differences between alfalfa hay and grass hay is the protein content. On average, alfalfa hay has much higher levels of protein, ranging from 15% to 21% depending on when the alfalfa was cut. This is much higher than the protein levels of grass hay, which typically contains 10% or less protein.

What is the best forage for horses?

As mentioned previously, legume plants (alfalfa and clover) tend to be higher in protein, energy and calcium compared to grass plants. Hence, legume forages are best suited for horses with elevated nutrient requirements such as broodmares and growing horses.

Is fresh grass better than hay?

Grass is more nutritious than hay as hay is dried, causing some of the beneficial vitamins & minerals to fade over time. Just as their wild counterpart, a domestic rabbit will always opt to eat fresh grass over hay, and eat it with fervour too!

What bedding is best for horses?


Best Type Of Bedding For Your Horse

  1. Wood Shavings. …
  2. Wood Pellets. …
  3. Wood Chips. …
  4. Sawdust. …
  5. Straw. …
  6. Rice Hulls. …
  7. Stall Mats. …
  8. Paper Shavings. Some people like to use paper shavings as bedding for their horses; they are dust-free and highly absorbent, so this could be a good choice for horses with allergies.

What is the difference between straw and hay?


Hay is a crop that is grown and harvested as a feed crop for cattle, horses and other farm animals. Straw on the other hand is a byproduct of a grain crop; in our area it’s usually usually wheat straw that we see.

Do horses need bedding?

Horse Bedding Criteria But horses by nature don’t need a soft, fluffy bed, unless there are particular concerns, such as old horses who might lie down frequently or stay down for longer periods of time. The primary purpose of bedding is to absorb urine and moisture.

Why do horses eat hay?


Feed Hay to Horses Often Horses need to graze on small amounts of forage almost constantly. Hay, which provides fiber, nutrients and vitamins in a relatively low-calorie dose, can be fed in this manner all year round, allowing even horses with zero turnout time a chance to eat like their ancestors.

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