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Timothy and Alfalfa Hay Blog

    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

    Horses Need More Hay in Cold Weather

    Posted on Dec 13, 2013

    Horses Require Additional Energy in Winter

    Cold temperatures, rain, wind, and snow….no doubt about it…winter is here. Are you prepared to feed your horse to keep him warm? Don’t just throw a blanket on your horse when the weather turns nasty. Increasing your horse’s daily calorie (or energy) intake is more important than a blanket at maintaining core body temperature.

    Mature horses that are at maintenance (i.e., healthy and not growing, working, gestating, or lactating) should be fed a good quality forage at the rate of at least 1.5 to 2% of their body weight each day. In other words, daily forage intake for a 1000 pound horse should be between 15 and 20 pounds.

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    Topics: Alfalfa Hay, Hay for Horses, Timothy Hay, Timothy, Horse Health, Horse Nutrition

    Is your hay high in moisture? Find out with appliances in you home!

    Posted on Nov 15, 2013

    Determining Moisture in Feeds is as easy as Using a Microwave

    Did you know that you can determine the moisture content of your animal feeds with a microwave? It’s true, and is in fact, quite easy to do. But, why is it important to know how much moisture a feed component contains? To put it simply – moisture essentially dilutes nutrients in a feedstuff. The amount of water, or moisture, in a feed contributes to its weight, but does not provide any nutrients. When moisture is removed, dry matter remains. The dry matter contains the nutrients that an animal needs for maintenance, growth, pregnancy, and lactation. Cows and horses must be fed diets that are balanced to meet their nutritional requirements and diets must be balanced on a dry matter basis.

    Moisture contents vary widely by type of feed. Fresh pasture grass contains a lot more moisture than hay. Conceivably, a horse or cow would have to eat a lot more pasture grass than hay to meet its nutrient requirements. Moisture content of feeds can also be affected by timing and method of harvest.

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

    Horse Behavior Significantly Affected by Lack of Hay

    Posted on Nov 5, 2013

    The horse is naturally a grazing animal. As such, horses spend 16 to 18 hours grazing each day. This type of diet is generally high in fiber and low in calories. Current trends in domestic horse keeping, especially for performance horses, include stabling and feeding diets that are low in fiber and high in energy or calories. Unfortunately, when horses cannot graze they often develop stereotypic behavioral problems such as wood chewing or cribbing, stall circling, and weaving. In addition, feeding low forage diets have been linked to gastric ulcer formation in horses.

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    Topics: Hay for Horses, Timothy Hay, Timothy, Horse Health, Horse Nutrition

    Alfalfa is an Ideal Hay for Horses

    Posted on Oct 25, 2013

    Don’t Believe the Myths – Alfalfa is an Ideal Hay for Horses

    Alfalfa hay is the most important legume forage crop grown in the United States. Alfalfa hay is readily available - it is grown and sold in every state in the U.S. The high feeding value of alfalfa hay makes it an ideal feed for horses and livestock. It also improves the soil and alfalfa sprouts can even be used as a food source for human consumption.

    Normally, alfalfa hay is fed as baled hay. However, it can also be fed as chopped hay, cubes, or pellets. Alfalfa hay is a very digestible feed source that is high in protein, energy, vitamins and minerals. It is clear that the nutritional value of quality alfalfa hay make it a valuable addition to equine diets. And, let’s face it - horses love the taste of alfalfa hay!

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    Topics: Alfalfa Hay, Hay for Horses, Horse Health, Horse Nutrition

    Horses Prefer Timothy Hay

    Posted on Sep 13, 2013

     

    There are many varieties of grasses and legumes that can be fed to horses. Some are more palatable and digestible than others. Timothy hay is one of the most popular hays fed to horses. It is grown in many locations in the United States and around the world. Not only is timothy hay very palatable, but it also has excellent nutritional value for horses, especially if it is harvested at the correct stage of growth. Reed canarygrass is a tall, leafy, high-yielding cool-season perennial grass. It is typically considered as a low-quality forage for livestock because native varieties contain high levels of alkaloids, which make the forage unpalatable. Additionally, this forage often grows in wetlands and, as such, it isn’t usually harvested until wetlands dry up and the grass is overly mature. However, newer varieties have lower concentrations of alkaloids and similar nutrient composition and digestibility to other cool-season grasses.

    Researchers from the University of Maryland examined the voluntary intakes and dry matter digestibilities of timothy hay and a low-alkaloid variety of reed canarygrass hay by mature, Thoroughbred geldings.

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    Topics: Hay for Horses, Timothy Hay, Race Horse Hay, Timothy, Horse Nutrition

    Prebiotics and Probiotics Benefit Equine Gastrointestinal Health

    Posted on Aug 26, 2013

    Horse owners provide their horses all the right things – clean, fresh water, excellent quality forage like alfalfa or timothy hay, and supplements that provide balanced levels of vitamins and minerals. In spite of this exceptional care, sometimes their horses still don’t seem quite right and may actually be suffering from digestive problems. The equine digestive system is particularly sensitive and overall health is directly tied to a properly functioning gastrointestinal tract. Fortunately, many types of nutritional supplements that support digestive function are available to horse owners.

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

    Salt Essential to Horse Health

    Posted on Jul 22, 2013

    Salt – Essential for Life

    Salt is an essential nutrient. It is not produced by the body, but it is required for life. Horses have an innate appetite for salt. When available, most horses will consume enough salt to meet their needs.

    Salt is made up of the minerals sodium and chloride. Sodium is important for muscle contraction, conduction of nerve impulses, and digestion of protein. Sodium also plays a key role in the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Chloride is essential for the maintenance of blood pH and enhances the transport of carbon dioxide from tissues to the lungs.

    Since pasture grasses and hays contain little sodium, salt (sodium chloride) is often added to concentrates formulated for horses. Free-choice salt, either plain or trace-mineralized, can also be offered to horses. A salt block is the most common form of sodium chloride that is fed to horses.

    While salt blocks were originally designed for animals that have rough tongues, such as cattle, they are also suitable for horses. However, if a horse bites or gnaws at the corners of a block, it is possible that he is not getting enough salt by licking the block. Therefore, it might be preferable to feed loose salt in this scenario. If loose salt is provided in the pasture, it should be placed in a covered feeder. Also consider placing salt in at least two widely-spaced locations to ensure all horses have access to salt, especially if there are some that are aggressive in the bunch.

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    Topics: Quality of Forage, Horse Nutrition

    Hay for Horses become Nutrients for Crops when Managed Responsibly

    Posted on Apr 26, 2013

    Management Tips for Horse Owners that Can Favorably Affect the Environment

    “Environmental stewardship is the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment.”(1) A more sustainable future hinges upon environmental stewardship. There are approximately 4 million horses in the United States (2). Everyone in the horse industry, from single-horse owners to commercial stable managers, face the same environmental challenges that other livestock owners must confront. Since pasture, paddock, and manure management practices directly affect soil and water quality, good environmental stewardship starts with the responsible planning and management of these resources.

    Let’s face it – manure happens! All of that nutritious alfalfa hay or timothy hay that you feed an average 1000-pound horse each year turns into about 8 tons of manure (3). A draft horse will produce twice that amount, while a pony will produce half. Manure, which includes urine, feces, and bedding, can be a valuable commodity if it is used properly. It contains nutrients that plants need to grow, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. However, over-application of manure to crops results in more nutrients than the plants need. In this case, the extra nutrients can seep into groundwater and contaminate wells or runoff in surface water and pollute streams, rivers, and lakes. In addition, manure may contain parasites or pathogens that may infect horses if they graze pastures where contaminated manure was spread.

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    Topics: Alfalfa Hay, Hay for Horses, Timothy Hay, Timothy, Horse Health, Horse Nutrition

    Horse Health - Alfalfa Hay quality important to Vitamin A absorption

    Posted on Apr 9, 2013

    Vitamin A and Equine Health

    Is your horse getting enough Vitamin A?  This vitamin is important in vision and in the maintenance of cells that line the reproductive, digestive, and respiratory tracts.  Vitamin A is also important in processes involved in bone remodeling in young, growing horses.  What’s more, Vitamin A is necessary for collagen synthesis and cross-linking, making it a vital component in the development of tendon and ligament strength.  In addition, retinoic acid, an active form of Vitamin A in the body, enhances growth hormone secretion when it interacts with thyroid hormone or glucocorticoids.  Growth hormone is thought to augment wound healing

    Vitamin A does not occur naturally in plant products.  Rather, it occurs as carotenes, which are precursors of Vitamin A that are abundant in nature.  There are more than 600 forms of carotene, but only a few can be converted into Vitamin A.  Most carotenes are converted into Vitamin A in the lining of the horse small intestine, and a smaller percentage is transformed in the liver or in fat tissue.  Beta-carotene (β-carotene) is the most biologically active carotenoid; however, horses are not as efficient in converting carotenes to Vitamin A as are some other animals.  Conversion rate is affected by a horse’s body stores of Vitamin A, level of intake, age, activity level, and air temperature.

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