Hay: and so on and so forth!
Hay is the quintessential food for horses. We can find it in different forms depending on the needs of our horses
- #horse health
Horses need in their diet a large amount of fibrous food. In nature this component is represented by grass and essences that they find during grazing. In our stables this instead essentially consists of hay. But which one should we choose for a correct and balanced diet? In general the first cutting of hay is the most suitable for most horses. It can be found in various forms:
• Polyphyte meadow hay: forage mix cut during the spring period also called pasture hay, a good choice for most stables.
• Single-plant hay: consisting of one essence specially planted as ryegrass or alfalfa. Intended to maintain the nutritional quality of constant fodder or, from a medical perspective, for subjects in reproduction or growth.
• Bales, small bales, large bales: hay can be harvested in rectangular or round bales weighing 300-400 kg or in small bales divided into slices weighing 15-20 kg. Small bales are very easy to handle while the large rectangular bales are often preferred to the round ones because the nutritional quality and health properties are maintained over time.
• Dried, pressed and bagged: often to reduce the volumes and to maintain the nutritional value, the product is dried in appropriate machinery, pressed into small bales and stored in a nylon but non-sealant wrapping. It is especially suitable for those who make frequent moves.
• Silage: the semi-dry product is pressed and hermetically contained in sealed bags. Through fermentations a good product is obtained that is especially recommended for horses with respiratory problems.
• Long or cropped: the stems can be of variable length between 30 and 40 inches but in some cases are cropped to obtain the so-called 'chaff' which is nothing other than cropped hay. In this way it is possible to reduce the volumes and enables easy bagging. It is often added to cereal-based feed to prolong chewing.
• Pelleted: the pellets may have sizes of one centimetre and up to fist size and are thus called 'large pellets'. Processed in this manner, they are free from dust and are often added to other components that are useful to help balance the ration. The hay in pellets has small sized fibre which makes it suitable for horses with chewing problems
• Brick and wafers: cropped hay is processed and pressed into blocks that often contain a small percentage of molasses. It is not only more palatable but also has a low dust content
• Wet or vapourised: useful for horses who have breathing problems or to increase its palatability.
There are therefore many different types of forage on the market. Attention should be paid to the choice of the product best suited to the needs of our horse and any problems it may have.