There is so much to consider as a horse owner, with so many different sources of information recommending different approaches to providing optimal care. Overall, grazing is a big part of everyday life for horses with all lifestyles, keeping them busy and maintaining a healthy digestive system. Many outdoor horses spend the day grazing fresh grass, but indoors or in situations where that isn’t possible, choosing the best type of hay for its nutritional benefits can help ensure that your horse gets the most out of his diet. From comfortable stable mat and a warm bedding of high quality hay and fresh water, ensure your horse’s living conditions are as good as possible for a happy, healthy horse.
Grass hay is derived from fresh plants, cut and baled when it offers the highest levels of nutritional value. Although lower in energy and protein than other types of hay, grass hay is known for its high fiber content, which maintains a healthy digestive system and body weight. Grass hay is an ideal choice for those with a slower lifestyle, such as retired horses or those with little exercise, keeping them busy and providing natural pasture. We tend to recommend avoiding grass hay for growing horses, pregnant horses and those with heavier lifestyles, as there are higher energy levels available in other alternatives. .
Hay of legumes
Produced from a variety of legumes such as alfalfa, clover and bird’s foot, legume hay provides extra energy and protein over grass alternatives. Horses tend to like the taste of legume hay and minimize waste, while encouraging them to drink more water for better hydration. Pregnant horses, growing foals and heavy performance horses tend to be fed legume hay to provide a nutritionally dense diet that contains many digestible nutrients that contribute to overall health. It should be noted that many legume hays naturally contain a high calcium to phosphorus ratio, so it may be necessary to add a supplement to balance this.
If you are still unsure of the best type of hay for your horse’s personal needs, consider your horse’s lifestyle and whether he is getting the level of nutrients he needs. Age, breed, workload, and health issues all contribute to dietary needs, and in some cases combining grass hay with legume hay may be the best approach. Also consider how easily you can access each, as the amounts required will differ depending on the hay you choose, so a sufficient amount should be available at all times. It is important to check the quality of the hay before giving it to your horse; pay attention to traces of mold or dust as these must be avoided. Your hay should be green in color and have a pleasant sweet smell, so store it efficiently to maximize its shelf life and avoid any issues with damp or old hay losing its nutritional quality.