HorseHage – It’s Not Just Haylage!
Monday 14 June 2010
When purchasing forage, there are still many consumers out there who think HorseHage is just the same as haylage, packed into a small bale and branded. This is not the case and we want horse owners to understand exactly what makes HorseHage different.
HorseHage is described as ‘bagged forage’ to differentiate it from ordinary haylage, and there are reasons for this.
HorseHage is produced from selected grasses which are sown for this purpose and are usually re-seeded every two to three years to maintain grass quality, with production analysed daily. It is cut and turned in the same way as hay, but instead of allowing it to dry completely on the field, it is baled when the grass has semi-wilted and the dry matter has reached around 55%. This strict quality control takes place throughout the production process in order to ensure the optimum moisture content of 35 - 45% together with the fibre and nutrient levels.
In comparison, big bale haylage is often made from older pasture which may previously have been grazed. As with hay, previously grazed pasture tends to be perennial containing weeds which can be unpalatable for horses. After cutting, wilting and baling it is wrapped to exclude air. The quality, nutritional content, dry matter and acidity may all be variable and it is unlikely to have been analysed or come with a quality guarantee. It may also have been re-bagged from a large bale at a later date and so there may be a risk of the bag containing mould or myco-toxins.
HorseHage bales are hydraulically compressed to leave a minimum amount of air in the bag to allow optimum fermentation and minimise the growth of mould and bacteria. The surviving yeast and bacteria start to ferment, causing the sugars in the grass to break down, reducing the acidity level, and giving it a pleasant, sweet smell and preserving the grass. The bales are then heat sealed into double-lined plastic bags to reduce the risk of puncturing, which would allow air in and cause mould growth. The high compression produces a small bale which is easy to handle but contains a lot more forage than you think.
One of the most important reasons many horse-owners choose HorseHage is because it is dust-free. Feeding dusty or mouldy forage can cause allergic reactions which may lead to permanent respiratory damage and in extreme cases can result in severe respiratory diseases such as RAO (Recurrent Airway Obstruction). Hay is never 100% dust free and even soaking hay only removes some of the dust spores. Haylage is usually dust free – but choose one which clearly states this to be certain
There are many articles out there that say haylage is not a suitable forage for laminitics, however this advice applies only to haylage and not to HorseHage bagged forage. Both the High Fibre and Timothy varieties of HorseHage actually have a lower sugar content than hay and with lower protein and energy levels too, they can be safely fed to laminitics as well as equines that are resting or convalescing. With a variety of grass types to choose from, with differing nutritional values, HorseHage offers a choice of forage for all types of horse or pony, from those in hard work or competing to leisure horses and laminitics.
The benefits from feeding HorseHage to your animal are obvious but there are also other advantages. The high nutritional content of HorseHage means that you can often reduce the level of concentrates that you feed, which will, in turn, help to reduce your overall feed bill. Also with HorseHage you will get a quality guarantee so you have a problem with a bag, you will be able to exchange it for a new bag. Also your horse won’t waste a mouthful. HorseHage is extremely palatable and ideally you should use a HorseHage net which has smaller mesh to prolong your horse’s eating time.
For more information on forage and advice on feeding your horse, please call the HorseHage Helpline on: 01803 527257 or visit www.horsehage.co.uk
*Material supplied courtesy of the Horsemart National magazine, June 2010 – available at all good stockists nationwide. Email email@example.com today for more info!
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