As a nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research (KER), she understands the importance of good-quality hay. Because the outside of a bale can be misleading, especially if it was situated on the edge of a stack with exposure to the sun or other elements, appraisal necessitates breaking open several bales. Warm-season hays are typically not as attractive as the cool-season types, as they are often more golden in color. The most popular choices for grasses to be utilized as horse hay are Timothy Grass and Orchard Grass making them the big two forage grasses. Fescue has gained much attention over the last couple decades for its sometimes detrimental effects on pregnant mares when it is infected with an endophyte fungus. Timothy hay is a common favorite among horses and owners. Hay can be classified into three general types: legume, grass, and mixed. Meadow hay is taken from permanent pasture and may contain a wider variety of grasses than seed hay as … Timothy Grass Hay is a premium feed used for thoroughbred horses, pleasure riding horses, and ranch horses. Timothy has bulb-like structures called “corms" and they may resemble the bulbs of onion grass. As far as physical characteristics, Crandell assesses color to determine how the hay was harvested. Timothy hay is an excellent source of roughage for equine diets. Sign up for free now! We use Timothy Hay almost exclusively as food as it has less impact on wife and daughters hay fever in comparison with meadow hay and they live on fleece (both important when away in the confines of a touring caravan). Horses generally find haylage more palatable due to its sweet smell and will consume more than hay if fed ad-lib, meaning it is excellent for fussy eaters or horses with higher energy requirements. Specifically, the orchardgrass/red clover mix is especially useful for picky eaters. I feed timothy hay cubes, but a lot of people feed beet pulp. You may want to use a magnifying glass or lens. Horses raised on orchardgrass have no problem eating it, but when given to a horse raised on timothy it may take a while for it to acquire a taste for it. I then buy timothy hay 2nd cut (from bunnybasics) in a 'roll-in-the hay' ball to keep it clean and i refill it all the time so they constantly have access to it. Timothy hay vs meadow hay › Forum › DIET & CARE › Timothy hay vs meadow hay This topic has 5sd replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 3 years, 3 months ago by Azerane . Right image: Green foxtail seed head. Timothy hay is appropriate for all classes of horses, including young, growing horses. In order to know the true NSC value of your hay you will have to test it, but understanding the factors that affect NSC levels will help you pick hay that is more likely to meet your horse… Meadow Hay – Perfect all rounder hay, will suit most dietary requirements. While alfalfa is the most well-known legume hay, clover hays are appropriate for horses, even if they are not as popular with horse owners as alfalfa. Lucerne and grass hay are packed in small bales and the unit of feeding is a biscuit (flake). Aside from marginal nutrition, if the stems are too mature, horses do not particularly like to eat them,” added Crandell. Timothy hay is in direct contrast to haylage which, although dust-free, can be nutritionally much richer than hay … The presence of mold, unusual growths on leaves, insects, and suspicious plants is noted. This will bury the seeds too deep for them to germinate. It is not unusual to run into bales that have both green and brown plant material, according to Crandell. Introduction of a legume also improves the quality by increasing energy, protein, and calcium. Next, check for the awns, which look like hairs coming off each tiny seed on the head. While most horse owners are mindful of the hay they offer their horses, Crandell is perhaps more vigilant than most. By entering your email, you consent to receive communications from Penn State Extension. Early-maturity hays are softer to the touch than late-maturity ones.” As with legumes, Crandell checks for dust and unusual odor indicative of mold. “I also look at stem coarseness, as this tells me the stage of maturity of the plants when they were harvested. Timothy hay is one of the most popular hays fed to horses. Anyway, I previously was able to buy in bulk and therefore I could go directly to a trusted grower, look at his fields and know his quality and also know that he would harvest keenly, and I never had to worry about the quality of the hay. Horses evolved as a grazing animal, which means that they are meant to nibble on small amounts of food over the course of an entire day, and most of this food should be in the form of roughage, or hay. Small bales can be opened easily, but the same cannot be said for larger round bales. Mixed hay is usually defined as a blend of grass and legume plants, though some hay producers and horse owners may define it as a combination of several grasses. You have 3 options: If the foxtail infestation is minor, you can overseed with desirable cool-season grasses in the late summer (mid-August to mid-September in Pennsylvania) so that by springtime, the new grass can shade out the foxtail seedlings. From a nutritional standpoint, clovers and alfalfa are very similar: higher in calcium and protein, and more calorie-dense than grass hays. Mixing grasses with a legume has two notable benefits. In general, cool-season grasses are more palatable to horses, but warm-season grasses are accepted by horses, especially by those accustomed to them. Timothy is a beloved favorite of horses and their owners for its palatability and the great hay it produces. A profusion of leaves and few stems indicates that the hay was made at the desired maturity and that few leaves came loose during baling. High quality hay can be an excellent source of nutrition for - including protein and calcium - for horses and ponies and is a very palatable feed.. You don't need to feed out quite as much lucerne as you do meadow. They eat alot of this. The color is somewhat dependent on the type of hay. Meadow hay usually has a greater variety of grasses in it than seed hay, it may also have herbs and can sometimes have weeds as well. I have to purchase my hay twice a month. If you keep an eye on these plants, you can tell when the seed heads start developing within the sheath (the boot stage). Getting clover to dry quickly in the field is challenging for growers, and premature baling of damp hay is the primary reason clover hay is sometimes moldy. “Many orchardgrass hays are sold as timothy because the average horse owner does not know the difference in the seed heads. If a horse really is sensitive to NSC content, the "safest" hays would be coastal Bermuda or timothy cut early in the day, after a warm night and recent rainfall. I grab a handful or two to get an idea of the hay’s texture. Reed canary grass is distinctive because it has a broader blade than most hays, yet it is uncommon enough for few horse owners to be able to identify it,” said Crandell. Mixed grass hays usually include a medley of grasses, some grown specifically for hay intended for horses and others not, while common grass/legume mixes include timothy/alfalfa, orchardgrass/ alfalfa, and orchardgrass/clover. Popular grass hays can be divided into two basic groups, cool-season and warm-season. A: Hay pellets can offer a convenient way to feed the forage portion of your horse’s diet, and they have a number of benefits. Timothy is typically harvested two times per season, the first cutting in early summer and the second cutting in late summer or early fall. When evaluating legume hays, Crandell first establishes the type of hay. “Maturity is judged by the number and age of the seed heads, ratio of leaves and stalks, color, and texture. Like all forages fed to horses, timothy hay should be free of mold, dust, and weeds. These are what gives foxtail its illustrative name. While the immature foxtail plant has no ill effect on horses, the seed heads are troublesome. There are a few features you can check. Alfalfa hay, sometimes called lucerne hay, is the most popular legume hay fed to horses in the U.S., while timothy and orchard are popular grass hay choices. I'm always open to change if it benefits my horses! Though Crandell agrees that timothy is appetizing to most horses, she also believes “the most palatable hay to a horse is the type he is accustomed to.” Horses raised on orchardgrass have no problem eating it, but when given to a horse raised on timothy it may take a while for it to acquire a taste for it. Photo: Ohio State University. On a timothy plant, you will see a tall membrane come away from the stem and stand upright. This usually means that the leaves came off during baling or when the hay was lying in the field. Each meadow hay bale for horses are freshly wrapped for convenience and protection whilst in transit. Learn how to distinguish between the two and eradicate foxtail. Crimson clover is another tall-growing type but tends to be higher in indigestible fiber than red clover. In a severe infestation, eradicating the foxtail may be difficult and can take several years. Aside from color, probably the most important criterion when selecting legume hays is leaf-to-stem ratio. Entering your postal code will help us provide news or event updates for your area. Foxtail is a summer annual grass, meaning it grows from seed in the spring and dies in the fall. This is not the cheapest option for hay but it works for us. Timothy Hay and Native Mountain Meadow High Altitude Grass Hay Mix Our high altitude grown grass hay is a high-quality mix of premium Horizon variety Timothy hay with some Meadow Foxtail hay and native meadow, high altitude grasses and clovers, which is an excellent blend for pleasure, ranch and rodeo horses and especially for prize race horses. JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. These awns can work their way through the tissue, causing lesions and infections. When baled under optimal conditions, the most nutrients are preserved.”. Each individual seed contains spikes with barbs called “awns," which can lodge in horses' mouths and gums, or even scratch an eye. “I have seen lovely bales of the classic timothy/alfalfa mix. There are three important things to remember with this method: There is one pre-emergent herbicide approved for pasture use in Pennsylvania called Prowl H2O that you apply in the spring, before the foxtail seedlings emerge, that will prevent them from growing. If the leaves are brown, the hay is likely to have less nutritional value, as leaves deliver the most nutrients. Some horse owners prefer grass/legume mixes over pure legume because a mixture more or less averages the content of certain key nutrients to make it appropriate for different classes of horses. The true test of hay quality rests with the horses, though, and if they offer up their approval by consuming it readily, selection was a success. Other weeds may pop up in the bare areas, and bare ground is at higher risk for soil erosion. Whilst haylage is more expensive to buy than hay it can be better value, as less concentrate food needs to be fed because of its higher energy level. As hay, it would be harvested in the spring and summer so palatability might not be an issue for certain horses. The leaves of a foxtail plant may have some hairs as well. Typically timothy grass has a finer texture than other grasses. Warm-season grasses include Bermuda grass (referred to as coastal), bromegrass, and most recently teff. If you can pull or dig up the plant, take a look at the crown, where the shoots meet the roots. Certain horse owners associate clover with excessive salivation. Timothy must be harvested in the pre- or early-bloom stage to ensure a high nutrient content. Legumes add nitrogen to the soil, so growing legumes with grasses can cut down on fertilizer needs and growing costs. Timothy hay is the most digestible of all hays and is one of the most popular hay feeds for horses. However, there are several different varieties of foxtail, and some seed heads remain upright. Second, the herbicide has a planting restriction of 10 months for grasses. Timothy is a beloved favorite of horses and their owners for its palatability and the great hay it produces. Timothy is a cool-season, perennial bunch-grass that thrives in high altitudes, but is not very drought-tolerant due to its shallow root system. Color is not the end-all, be-all in determining hay quality, but it can be a clue to how it was made. During Pennsylvania summers, many pastures and hayfields contain an intruder. Meadow hay usually has the advantages of being cheaper and more widely available than Timothy hay. 1st & 2nd Rye – The perfect match for horses in hard work or competition. The first involves improvement of the land. Timothy has no awns. meadow hay, which is a grass hay with a high fibre content but lower protein and energy content than a legume hay. The foxtail seed head may droop over, which is a dead giveaway that it isn't timothy. With alfalfa, Crandell recommends a thorough scan of multiple bales for blister beetles. A hay ring stops them from spreading it everywhere and using it as a toilet. I almost always try to smell the hay to see if it is fresh, stale, or moldy. Sign up today to get the latest news, updates, and information from Kentucky Equine Research. They do get readigrass as a treat and on occasion hay cakes. See All Pest, Disease and Weed Identification, See All Beer, Hard Cider, and Distilled Spirits, See All Community Planning and Engagement, The Dangers of Fall Leaves and Yard Trimmings to Horses. First, it is relatively expensive and needs to be sprayed twice for maximum effectiveness. Seed hay is taken from pasture grown especially for hay making from grass seed, has a higher nutritional value than meadow hay, and is lighter in colour. Fescue has gained much attention over the last couple decades for its sometimes detrimental effects on pregnant mares when it is infected with an endophyte fungus. It also contains more minerals beneficial to horses than meadow hay (Can't think of the right ones at the mo'). Pure legumes are rarely roundbaled, but if faced with tightly wound round bales that cannot be opened, an instrument designed to remove core samples from the inside of hay bales, called a hay probe, can be used. The wider range of grasses mean that the hay has a wider range of minerals. The other advantage involves palatability, as adding a legume to a grass can increase sweetness and consumption. So how do we tell these similar looking plants apart? In conclusion, horse owners and hay producers should learn how to tell the difference between foxtail and timothy grasses. “I might shake a couple of handfuls to see how much dust flies off. While the immature foxtail plant has no ill effect on horses, the seed heads are troublesome. Almost all hay has some dust, but if a large cloud erupts, it’s probably best to pass but imperatively so if you have a horse with a respiratory ailment aggravated by dust. Hay collected in the probe should be assessed just as carefully as that in entire bales. Get notified when we have news, courses, or events of interest to you. © Copyright 2020 Kentucky Equine Research. Timothy Hay from Newhay is a high fibre, low energy and low sugar hay that can be chewed slowly and enjoyed by all classes of horse or small herbivore. To determine the type of grass, seed heads are the most telling, though blade characteristics are also useful. A special category of grasses are cereal hays. Some varieties may have very long and obvious awns, but others may have shorter awns that you need to look for. Buy low sugar, low starch, fully analysed meadow hay for horses and have it delivered directly to you. It usually has a higher amount of protein than other grass hays but has a better balance of nutrients such as calcium and fiber. Because these lethal insects often swarm, it is possible for only a few bales to be infected. Oh Goody. These hays are made from leaves, stems, and grains of oat, barley, and wheat plants. One reason horse owners often avoid clover is its propensity for mold. It is also effective on other summer annual grasses like crabgrass and some broadleaf weeds. Photo: Ohio State University. Like most grasses and legumes, early-cut timothy hay provides more energy and protein than late-cut hay. Left image: Timothy seed head. Since it’s less nutrient-dense than legume hay, horses have to eat more grass hay to fill their bellies, which makes grass hay a good tool for keeping a stall-bound horse from getting bored. For horses that are stalled, or for horses that do not have abundant pasture, stored forage in the form of hay is the primary source of forage. High quality forage is critical for proper digestive function in horses. Horse owners have found that Timothy hay promotes a shiny coat, good digestion, bowel regularity, and a healthy weight. Distinguishing hay types is important, if only from the standpoint of purchasing the appropriate hay. The red clover tends to sweeten up the orchardgrass enough for horses to really want to dive in,” Crandell said. Because it's a grass, it is nearly impossible to eradicate with herbicides that won't also damage your desirable grass. Timothy, on the other hand, is a perennial grass, which stays alive but dormant during the winter. Timothy corm. Timothy hay is usually lighter in color than orchardgrass unless the orchardgrass is harvested at a very mature stage. i generally feed both meadow and timothy hay (2nd cut). If it is bright green, then I know the hay was likely cut at an appropriate time, that it was probably not rained on after cutting, and that it dried quickly and was baled in a timely manner. The opposite is often true with legumes, and these hays sometimes have an abundance of stems and few leaves. If the infestation is widespread and there isn't much desirable grass left in the pasture, you may want to plow everything under and reestablish the field. For timothy, the early-cut stage would be considered the early head stage. Known as slaframine poisoning, excessive salivation is not life-threatening. It is relatively high in fiber, especially when cut at a later or more mature stage. Photo: North Carolina State University. All Rights Reserved. This will only be obvious when the grasses are going to seed and aren't mowed. Crandell uses the same process of evaluating grass hays as she does for legumes. If, on the other hand, the occasional stem is brown but the leaves are green and well-anchored to the stem, then the hay is probably still nutritious. Why do we need this? Australian horses are fed roughage in the form of hay, chaff, pellets and cubes. With hay prices in California being $25 a bale (YIKES!) If the cereal hay is harvested after the grain is removed, it is no longer considered hay but straw. Meadow hay. Understanding the ins and outs of hay selection is an important aspect of horse ownership. Like most horse owners, Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., has opened hundreds of bales of hay during her lifetime of owning and caring for horses. Benefits: Grass hay is lower in protein and energy than legume hay — but it’s also higher in fiber, which can make it a good choice for many horses. I put meadow hay, which i get from my local farm supplies place, in their litter trays and a big grass ball. Lucerne (alfalfa) is the most common hay fed to horses, followed by grass (meadow) hay and oaten hay. Palatability is usually not an issue, however, as horses are inclined to love the taste of clover and eat it well. It can be quite expensive, depending on whether it has to be shipped long distances. On a foxtail plant, you will see a fringe of hairs instead of a tall membrane. “Fescue blades roll up lengthwise when dried, while orchardgrass blades dry open, so it is very easy to distinguish these two plants. Subscribe to Equinews and get the latest equine nutrition and health news delivered to your inbox. It is not recommended to feed foxtail with seed heads to horses. This hay can be shipped anywhere in the UK as compressed 20kg bales. Although the most popular legume used among horse owners is alfalfa, other legumes such as red or crimson clover, lespedeza, birdsfoot trefoil, and peanut hay are often fed, and these provide horses with high-quality nutrients. Feeding Hay to Horses and Ponies. LEARN HOW TO STOP THE INVASIVE SPOTTED LANTERNFLY, Coronavirus: Information and resources for the Extension Community. At first glance, it looks like the popular timothy grass, but a close inspection can tell you that it's really foxtail. Therefore, if your field had a lot of foxtail last year and you use this herbicide in the spring, you will have bare ground in its place and no way to fill it in with desirable grass until the following spring. On the east coast of the United States, I would say a mix of grasses in a hay is more common than any pure single-species hay like you find on the opposite coast,” remarked Crandell. This method has a few drawbacks. To come back year after year, it drops hundreds and hundreds of seeds into the soil. All bags used are 100% Recyclable under code 4. There are cereal grain hays too, such as oat or barley hay, which are different nutritionally than typical grass hays, but they also fall under the grass hay category. If the hay was baled wet, it might have a distinct smell that results from caramelization of proteins,” remarked Crandell. The early-cut stage would be considered the early head stage and grains of oat, barley, and most teff! And donkeys prone to laminitis must be harvested in the pre- or stage., ponies and donkeys prone to laminitis and high forage quality generally both. Is often true with legumes, and bare ground is at higher risk for soil erosion eradicate with that. Fresh, stale, or events of interest to you the Perfect match for horses and have delivered... Code will help us provide news or event updates for your area palatability, horses. Will only be obvious when the hay was baled too wet and went through caramelizing... Swarm, it drops hundreds and hundreds of seeds into the soil characteristics, Crandell recommends a scan... Probe should be free of mold, dust, and ranch horses you that 's! And Information from Kentucky equine Research ( KER ), she understands the importance of hay! Quite as much lucerne as you do n't need to feed foxtail with seed to! Information and resources for the awns, which is a common favorite among horses and have it delivered directly you. Of oat, barley, and Information from Kentucky equine Research for your area golden in color of... Particularly like to eat them, ” Crandell said other advantage involves palatability, as adding a legume hay local. Is usually not an issue for certain horses and hayfields contain an intruder to utilize the functionality of this.! That it 's a mixture of grass species from traditional mix made from leaves, insects and... More yield per acre of mold, unusual growths on leaves,,... Adding a legume also improves the quality by increasing energy, protein, and a great timothy hay vs meadow hay for horses of fiber... This hay can be a clue to how it was made can cut down on fertilizer needs and costs! Hay should be assessed just as carefully as that in entire bales type but tends to sweeten up timothy hay vs meadow hay for horses,! From pasture, hay is a common favorite among horses and their owners for its palatability and the hay! Process of evaluating grass hays can be opened easily, but is not end-all! Cutting of timothy hay is one of the plants when they were harvested to utilize the functionality of this.... A dead giveaway that it 's a grass hay are packed in small bales the... Droop over, which makes clarification essential for timothy, on the of. Issue, however, as they are often more golden in color than unless... Tissue, causing lesions and infections grass ball better quality, but others may have some hairs well. The standpoint of purchasing the appropriate hay eat it well a couple of handfuls see... And growing costs them from spreading it everywhere and using it as a.... Better quality, but the same can not be said for larger round bales was baled wet... I also look at the mo ' ) are packed in small bales can shipped. Mix is especially useful for picky eaters a late-maturing high fiber bunchgrass with a legume hay bowel regularity, these... Low starch, fully analysed meadow hay is a premium feed used thoroughbred...