What to Look For in Quality Hay
What to look for in quality hay
What to look for in quality hay makes people who own horses want to make sure they are giving their horses good quality, nutritious hay for a healthy diet. Hay makes up the bulk of a horses diet, whether it is partial or the complete diet.
What to look for in Quality hay, there are three types of hay, Grass, Legume, and cereal grain hay. The grass hay includes Timothy, Orchard grass, and Bermuda grass. Legumes include Alfalfa and clover hay. The cereal grain hays include Oat, Barley, and Wheat hay.
What to look for in quality hay is Grass hay which is made up of any group of plants long, narrow with curled leaves. Legume hay comes from plants that convert nitrogen from the air to nutrients in the soil. It has broader small leaves that grow at angles to the stems and clusters of flowers than seeds. Cereal grain hay; the nutrient value of high-quality cereal hay is comparable to high-quality grass hay. Most quality hay that is fed to our horses is Timothy, Alfalfa, and Clover hay or a combination of the three.
Quality hay color and aroma
What to look for in quality hay is in the color and the aroma. The color should be a green, the greener the better. This has the higher nutrients and more favorable to the horses palate and is easier to consume. The aroma should smell fresh and sweet. Acrid or moldy smelling hay indicates bad hay- Don’t Feed this to your horse, could cause colic or worse.
Quality hay cutting and storage
What to look for in quality hay is also in the cutting and how it is stored. The cutting could be first, second, or later, but the first and second cutting is preferred due to it being higher in nutrients and tastier for the horses.
The early cut is at an immature stage of growth where the flowers are just emerging on the Alfalfa hay and the heads are on the grasses. Stems are fine and leafy, low in fiber, high in protein and energy. This is very palatable to the horse. Feeding early cut hay reduces the amount of grains needed to feed the horse in addition.
The late cut hay is in the advanced stage of growth where the flowers are in full bloom, the grasses have developed heads and seeds. Late cut hay is course , stemmy, and high in fiber and low in protein.
What to look for in quality hay is to keep your horse fed with a high protein, high in fiber hay on a regular basis that is easily consumed and favorable to the horses palate.