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Grass Clippings Unsafe for Horses, Stick to Pasture and Hay

Posted on May 23, 2014

Resist the Urge to Feed Lawn Clippings to Horses

Ah…spring! The weather is getting warmer and your lawn is a beautiful, green carpet. At this time of the year, you have to mow the lawn at least once a week, sometimes more frequently, and you generate an immense pile of grass clippings with every cutting. You think – wouldn’t those nice, green, sweet smelling clippings be a wonderful treat for your horse? He eats grass, so why wouldn’t they be good for him? Therefore, when the lawnmower bag is full, you head down to the barn to spoil your horse with a delicious indulgence.

Stop! Before you dump those bags of clippings into a pile at the barn for your horse to eat, consider the dangers that it poses. Grass clippings are the last thing you want to feed to your horse.

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Topics: Hay for Horses, Horse Health, Horse Nutrition

Moving Horses from Hay to Fresh Forage Can Pose Some Risks

Posted on May 7, 2014

Is There Danger Lurking for Horses in Lush Spring Pastures?

Did you know that those lush, early spring pastures can be dangerous for horses?  Over the years, grass breeders have developed cultivars, or types, that rapidly accumulate high levels of sugar, starch, and fructans (together referred to as nonstructural carbohydrates, or NSC). Grasses that have higher NSC are more drought resistant and have faster regrowth after grazing or harvesting. Furthermore, grasses that store more NSC have more calories, stimulate microbial fermentation, and improve nitrogen utilization in the rumens of cattle. Animals prefer forages with higher levels of NSC, which subsequently leads to greater intake and better performance by meat and milk producing animals. While cattle benefit from forages with high NSC, these types of grasses are not necessary good for horses.pastures can be dangerous for horses? Abrupt dietary changes, from hay to fresh forage 

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Topics: Hay for Horses, Timothy Hay, Quality of Forage, Timothy, Horse Health, Horse Nutrition

Does Vitamin E Help Keep Aging Horses Healthy?

Posted on Apr 4, 2014

Vitamin E Supplementation May Improve Immune Response in Older Horses

Horses are living longer than ever these days. Roughly 15% of horses in the United States are over the age of 20. Because immune function tends to decrease with advanced age, these horses are more susceptible to disease and infection. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that plays an important role in ensuring normal function of immune cells. Research suggests that vitamin E supplementation may enhance immune function in aged humans, including antibody production after vaccination (1).

There is not a lot of research available regarding the effects of vitamin E supplementation on equine immune function. Therefore, a group of researchers from the University of Rhode Island and Virginia Tech University designed a study to examine immune function in horses that received a vitamin E supplement.

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Topics: Horse Health, Horse Nutrition

Steamed Hay for Horses

Posted on Mar 21, 2014

Does Steaming Make Hay Healthier and Safer for Horses?

Soaking hay in water for 30 minutes or less is a good way to reduce airborne particles such as dust and mold, making it an effective management strategy for horses with respiratory problems. Soaking also reduces levels of nonstructural carbohydrates in hay, which is essential for horses with metabolic issues. However, soaking also leaches other essential nutrients from hay.

Steaming hay before feeding is commonly practiced in Europe and is becoming more popular in the U.S. But, not much is known about the effects of steaming on the nutritional quality of forage and if it effectively reduces dust and mold in hay. Fortunately, a study to examine the effects of steaming on hay quality was recently conducted by a team of researchers based in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota.

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Topics: Hay for Horses, Quality of Forage, Race Horse Hay, Horse Health, Horse Nutrition

Timothy and Grass Hay Requirements of Small Animals

Posted on Mar 7, 2014

Nutritional Needs of Small Herbivores

Guinea pigs, chinchillas, and rabbits are small herbivores, or plant-eating animals, that are commonly kept as companion animals. They have been bred in captivity for years and their quiet natures, ease of handling, and relatively simple housing requirements make them ideal pets, especially for owners that do not have a lot of room for four-legged friends. Feeding these small mammals is an important part of their daily care and each species has specific nutritional needs.

Clean water must be accessible to all species at all times. A sipper water bottle is the best method to provide water because it is less likely to be contaminated with bedding, food, feces, and urine. Animals that are unfamiliar with sipper water bottles may require some training to use them properly. Water bottles and bowls should be emptied and filled with fresh water daily to encourage water intake and to prevent overgrowth of bacteria.

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Topics: Timothy Hay, Quality of Forage, Timothy

Timothy Hay: What Cutting is Better for Horses?

Posted on Feb 19, 2014

Timothy hay is an excellent source of roughage for equine diets. Horsemen often have to decide if they should purchase the first or second cutting of timothy hay for their horses. Many believe that the nutritional quality of first-cutting timothy hay is inferior to the second cutting. While this may be true in some cases, this assumption is really erroneous if first-cutting hay is harvested from a weed-free field at an early stage of growth before the stem becomes larger and coarser.

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Topics: Hay for Horses, Timothy Hay, Quality of Forage, Race Horse Hay, Timothy, Horse Health, Horse Nutrition

Composting for your Horse's Health

Posted on Feb 13, 2014

Key Factors for a Successful Compost Pile

Composting horse manure is beneficial to your horse’s health. A properly managed compost pile will reach temperatures that are high enough to kill fly larvae, which reduces the fly population in the area, and also destroys weed seeds. The high temperature in the compost pile will also wipe out parasites and pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria that could cause diseases in horses.

There are several things to consider in creating and managing a successful compost pile.

Pile size. A compost pile that is about seven square feet at the base and at least three feet high will result in the best heating. Heat is generated when organic material decomposes. However, if the pile is too short, the heat will quickly dissipate and will not reach temperatures that are high enough to kill parasites, bacteria, viruses, and weed seeds.

Airflow. It is important to keep air in the compost pile to minimize odors and achieve high temperatures. Proper airflow will also speed up the decomposition process. Turning the pile at regular intervals (especially during the first few weeks) speeds up decomposition. Turning ensures that air reaches all areas of the pile and thoroughly mixes particles.

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Topics: Alfalfa Hay, Hay for Horses, Timothy Hay, Blue Grass Hay, Quality of Forage, Timothy, Horse Health

It's not cold everywhere! Tips for Dairy Cow Health in Hot Climates

Posted on Jan 24, 2014

Heat Stress Decreases Dairy Cow Milk Production

While it is currently winter in the northern hemisphere, dairy cows in some other parts of the world are experiencing environmental conditions that include high ambient temperature and relative humidity. Dairy farmers know that their cows are sensitive to heat stress on hot summer days. When the climate is subtropical, or when temperatures are hot and humid for extended periods of time, dairy cows may become chronically heat stressed.

The strain caused by chronic heat stress in lactating dairy cows can be detrimental to milk production.  Dairy producers in the United States lose more than $5 billion each year from heat stressed dairy cows that have depressed milk production and decreased performance (1).

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Topics: Dairy Cow Milk Production

Along with quality forage, hoof care important in winter

Posted on Jan 6, 2014

As outside temperatures plummet and precipitation becomes increasingly frozen, horse owners may opt to stay inside more often than not. Horses are well cared for – they get fed plenty of high quality hay, have fresh and unfrozen water, get regular turnout, and have access to shelter.

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Topics: Alfalfa Hay, Timothy Hay, Quality of Forage, Timothy, Horse Health, Horse Nutrition

Forage Recommendations for Young Dairy Calves

Posted on Dec 19, 2013

Growth performance of young dairy calves can be improved if a source of chopped hay is included in their diets. Unfortunately, because of conflicting results from different research studies, the jury is still out as far as solid recommendations about when forage should be introduced in the young dairy calf diet and how much they should be fed.

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Topics: Timothy Hay, Timothy, Dairy Cow Milk Production

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