Archive for January, 2021

Hay Intake Study Shows Horses’ Preferences

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

These questions were addressed in a study designed by a group of researchers at California State University.

For the study, eight mature mares went through a two-week adaptation period during which they were housed in individual pens that were partially covered by a roof. Each horse received a flake of alfalfa (lucerne) hay and a flake of wheat hay in the morning. In the evening, each horse received a flake of teff hay and a flake of oat hay. After the adaptation period, the horses were paired in four groups. Horses in each group were fed one type of hay for a week, beginning with an amount equal to 2.2% of the horse’s body weight. More hay was given if a horse consumed all its hay during the feeding period. Unconsumed hay was removed and weighed, and voluntary consumption was calculated. The different types of hay were analyzed for nutrient composition.

Alfalfa hay was consumed in the greatest quantity by all horses. Wheat and teff hay were eaten at a lower rate than alfalfa, and oat hay was eaten in the smallest quantity. Chemical composition, and therefore nutrient value, was not a good predictor of voluntary intake. Wheat and oat hay had the same chemical composition but horses ate more wheat hay, possibly because the wheat hay contained more grain.

Overall, hay consumption increased through each week of the study, but alfalfa was the only hay for which consumption met the horses’ requirement for energy. Alfalfa and teff hay were eaten in large enough quantities to meet the requirements for protein, lysine, calcium, and phosphorus, but the consumed amounts of oat and wheat hay did not meet these requirements.

Hay of any type will have a range of quality and palatability based on stage of maturity when cut, soil type, rainfall, and curing conditions. Just as each type of hay has a different nutritional profile, horses vary slightly in their requirement for energy and nutrients. Horse owners should buy clean, fresh hay with no signs of mold; store it indoors with good ventilation to prevent deterioration; provide hay to stabled horses several times a day; monitor horses for weight loss or gain; and feed grain products to meet energy demands that are not supplied by an all-forage diet.

If horses refuse to eat hay when it is offered, the hay may be slightly moldy or of poor quality, or the horse may have health issues (sore mouth, gastric ulcers, low-grade colic) that can be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.

Would you like more information about hay? Contact us at J & J Hay Farms by clicking here!

Article brought to you by KER.

Minimizing Wastage in Round Hay Bales Stored Outdoors

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Minimizing wastage in round hay bales stored outdoors has many advantages. Hay for horses traditionally comes in two forms: square bales (usually rectangular) that weight about 40 to 50 pounds, or larger and much heavier round bales. Round bales have advantages and disadvantages compared to smaller square bales. Cost, availability, and the need for less covered storage may be good points, while detractions include necessity of a tractor to move the bales and probability of having some hay wasted during both storage and feeding.

As much as 35% of the hay in an improperly stored round bale can be lost because of degradation from weather and contact with the ground, according to an article appearing in the September 2014 University of Minnesota Horse Newsletter.  The article offered the following tips for storing round hay bales so that waste can be kept to a minimum::

  • Dense, tightly compacted round bales will keep their shape well and therefore have less surface area contacting the ground.
  • Round bales secured with plastic twine or netting generally have less dry matter loss than those baled with traditional string twine.
  • Round bales stored outside should be placed on wooden pallets or a raised pad of at least four inches of coarse rock. Bales should not be stored under trees.
  • Round bales should be placed end to end in lines at least three feet apart. This protects the ends of bales and allows airflow and sunlight to help keep bales dry. Avoid stacking bales, as this traps moisture.
  • Protecting round bales with heavy plastic tarps or storing the bales indoors can significantly cut losses due to weather and moisture.

Would you like more information about minimizing wastage in round hay bales stored outdoors? Contact us at J & J Hay Farms by clicking here!

Article brought to you by KER.


Keep Stored Hay in Good Condition

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Keep Stored Hay in Good Condition

To stored hay in good condition, pay particular attention to the conditions where the bales are stored. Choose a spot that is dry and well-ventilated. If possible, make several smaller stacks of bales rather than one large stack; this allows air to reach more hay and minimizes the chance of mold formation. Storing hay in a covered building is best, but if no shelter is available, bales can be placed on pallets or frames that are raised four to six inches off the ground.

Cover outdoor hay with plastic or another protective material, but don’t wrap it so completely than air can’t circulate around the bales. Tarps or other opaque covers will keep the hay from being degraded by sunlight. Bales that are stored indoors can also benefit from being loosely covered to protect them from dust and animal droppings that can spread diseases to horses.

Feed the oldest hay first, mixing it with small amounts of newer hay and gradually increasing portions of newer bales until you use all the older supply. This is especially important if you are changing not just the cutting but the type of hay, as in switching from grass hay to alfalfa (lucerne) hay. A gradual change allows the microbial population in the horse’s hindgut to adapt to the new type of hay, avoiding gastrointestinal upsets.

Be sure hay was sufficiently dry before it was baled. Hay that is too damp is likely to mold, producing heat in the process that may be sufficient to cause a fire. Inspect each bale as it is fed, discarding any hay that is obviously moldy or has a musty or burned odor. A bale that feels significantly heavier than other bales in a particular batch of hay has a good chance of being damp and moldy.

Would you like more information about hay diets? Contact us at J & J Farms by clicking here!

Article brought to you by KER.

Color of Horse Hay: What Does It Mean?

Thursday, January 7th, 2021
Color of Horse HayThe color of horse hay is very useful in determining the quality of the hay. Methods of curing and storing hay greatly influence its appropriateness for horses.

The key to properly cured hay lies predominantly in moisture content. For best results, hay should not be baled until there is less than 20% moisture. Hay baled too wet might mold, heat, and pose a fire risk. Conversely, hay baled too dry might lose its nutritional value through broken or fallen leaves. Rain is the bane of a hay harvester’s existence, and it can cause extensive nutrient losses, especially to vitamins A and E, protein, and certain carbohydrates.

Though the color of hay is not the end-all, be-all method for determining hay quality (that would be forage analysis by a laboratory), color is a useful indicator of nutritive value.


Without question, the most desirable color of hay is bright green. Greenness indicates the hay was not subjected to any adverse conditions during curing or storage, thereby suggesting the forage is nutritious and free of molds. Green hay is often rife with carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, and vitamin E.


If hay is yellow, there is a likelihood that it was overmature when cut or was exposed to rain during the curing process. If the hay was rained on, it is not only susceptible to leaching of nutrients but also mold proliferation, which can cause gastrointestinal and respiratory problems such as colic, coughing, or heaves. In other instances, yellowing might be due to sun-bleaching, which occurs when stored hay is exposed to direct sunlight. Sun-bleaching decreases carotene content and palatability of the discolored hay. Sun damage usually affects only the outside of bales, so much of the hay in these bales is probably salvageable.


Nutritious hay is rarely, if ever, brown. If a tobacco-like odor accompanies extremely off-colored hay, this is likely due to overheating during storage caused by excessive moisture and fungal growth. Palatability of low-quality brown hay is usually poor. Due to the predisposition to mold and unpalatability, this hay should not be fed to horses.

Not all horses require bright green, nutrient-dense hay. In fact, equine nutritionists are adamant that forage selection be based on individual needs. An overweight pony does not need to stand knee-deep in fluorescent alfalfa (lucerne) for two-thirds of the day, and a thinnish lactating mare needs more than last year’s yellowing meadow grass to keep her in milk.

Other factors also affect hay quality including plant type (grasses versus legumes), stage of maturity, leaf-to-stem ratio, and presence of mold, weeds, and other foreign material.

Would you like more information about hay diets? Contact us at J & J Farms by clicking here!

Article brought to you by KER.

5 Tips to Get Your Horse to Drink More Water During Winter

Monday, January 4th, 2021

Get Your Horse to Drink More Water During WinterThe following guide will help you to get your horse to drink more water during winter: Water is the most essential aspect of any horse’s diet. Without adequate water intake, horses will not survive.

An adult horse (1000 lbs.) in a cool, comfortable environment that is not working, or lactating, needs a minimum of seven to ten gallons of fresh, clean water every day. The amount of water required is closely related to the amount of feed the horse has eaten. Most horses will drink 1.5 quarts of water per pound of dry feed intake. If a horse is consuming 20 pounds of dry hay per day, the horse would be expected to drink approximately 7.5 gallons of water each day. The water requirement is higher if the horse is in training, nursing a foal, growing, pregnant or in a hot/humid environment. The best way to ensure adequate water intake is to always provide free access to fresh, clean water.

Issues associated with water intake during the winter months usually revolve around horses not drinking enough water. Water that has frozen or is near freezing will result in decreased intake. Water consumption reaches its maximum when the temperature is maintained between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, horses that must eat snow as their only water source, will not eat enough snow to satisfy their necessary water requirement completely. This decreased water intake can result in digestive upset or “colic,” associated with feed material becoming impacted (stuck) in the digestive system. Therefore, the water source should be free-flowing or heated to prevent freezing and guarantee the horse is drinking enough water. When installing a heating device for water, be certain that any electrical unit is properly grounded to prevent electrical shock of the horse. Horses are very sensitive to electrical shock and will quit drinking to avoid shock.

Here are few easy tips to assist with increasing your horse’s water intake:

  1. Wet your horse’s feed at a ratio of 2 parts feed to 1 part water. This can increase the hydration status of your horse.
  2. Offer a wet mash, every day, of soaked beet pulp shreds or pellets, timothy forage pellets or alfalfa forage pellets. If you are concerned about adding too many calories to an overweight horse’s diet, try soaking and offering teff forage pellets. Soak these forage or fiber sources at a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part forage.
  3. Wetting down the long-stemmed hay you offer your horse can also boost water intake slightly.
  4. Flavoring your horse’s water can also encourage water intake, especially if you are traveling and have a picky drinker.
  5. Provide a salt block in your horse’s paddock or stall to help stimulate thirst.

Get Your Horse to Drink More Water During Winter Chart

Horses primarily eating hay will consume more water than those eating both hay and grain. Fiber increases the water holding capacity of the hindgut. Better quality hays, such as alfalfa, are typically higher in calories compared to grass hay. Other baled hay substitutes, such as forage cubes and pellets, can be fed to replace poor quality hay.

Standlee Premium Western Forage offers a wide variety of Alfalfa and Alfalfa mix products ranging from baled, long-stemmed forage, to cubes, pellets and chopped forage. Also available are Standlee Premium Smart Beet (beet pulp) shreds and pellets that increase the calorie content of the forage portion of the diet and are highly digestible.

If you have questions about how you can you to get your horse to drink more water during winter, please contact or visit J&J Hay Farms today.

By Dr. Tania Cubitt
Standlee Nutritional Expert – Performance Horse Nutrition