Hay has multiple functions; it can be used to enrich soil, cover grass seed, bed livestock and feed animals. There are lots of things you should consider and some of these are listed below to help you learn how to buy hay.
Why Should you Buy Hay for Your Horse?
1. Hay can be an excellent source of nutrition and is a palatable meal for your horse.
2. There are lots of different types of hay available, the most common being alfalfa, timothy, clover and rye. It is thought that alfalfa hay is best for your horse.
3. Naturally horses would be grazing and would consume a lot of grass per day so it is important when stabling horses to compensate for this loss of nutrients through hay.
4. The most nutritious hay is cut before the seed heads mature fully.
5. Hay will provide your horse with sufficient fibre to keep its gut and digestive system working correctly.
6. By making hay constantly readily available to your horse it can prevent weaving and cribbing because it encourages its natural foraging habits.
7. Some horses will overeat so you should keep an eye on and sometimes regulate the amount of hay your horse eats. Most horses however will self regulate the amount of hay they need.
8. If you soak the hay before feeding it can help to remove spores and dust which can cause coughing. This can unfortunately result in a reduction of nutritional content, better results are obtained through steaming.
Choosing the Best Hay
• Hay should smell sweet and be free of mould, dust and poisonous weeds such as ragwort.
• If they hay smells musty and is patchy to not feed it to your horse as it can cause coughs and respiratory diseases.
• When buying horse hay if you want a high stem to leaf ratio buy your hay in mid summer, if you buy hay in late autumn it has a higher leaf to stem ratio; horses find this type of hay more appetising.
• Order your hay from a farm, this will have a much higher nutritional value. It is easy for hay to go stale in stores when wrapped in plastic.
• If you have to buy hay from a store then buy green hay.
How to Buy Hay – Top Tips
• Buy in bulk; this could save you a lot of money.
• Buy a bale of hay from your local farm, if you have place to store hay bales it is the cheapest way to buy; each bale weighs approximately two hundred pounds.
• Vitamins in hay break down over time so make sure you feed your horse fresh hay.
How to Feed Your Horse Hay
• Haynet – make sure it is tied firmly and is high enough that the horse’s leg will not get caught.
• On the floor – this is the most natural way for a horse to feed but is very wasteful.