With winter approaching, horse owners will be looking for a source of hay to feed during the season when pasture forage is dormant. Keep these things in mind as you shop for winter hay:
- If you have enough storage space, try to buy most or all of your hay from the same source and cutting. Switching to a new type of hay, or even a different cutting of the same type of hay, may trigger colic in some horses.
- Examine representative bales from each delivery. Reject the order if you find many unusually heavy bales that may contain too much moisture; bales that show mold; and those that smell musty or damp.
- Look for hay that matches the nutritional requirements of the horses you are feeding. Performance horses will need a better grade of hay than horses that are idle. Obese horses may get along best on a medium-grade hay that is low in nonstructural carbohydrates. Horses with dental problems can get more nourishment from clean, fine-textured hay than from rougher forage that requires more chewing.
- Be generous in your estimate of how much hay you will need. Winter weather is somewhat unpredictable, so planning for a few extra weeks of hay use is a good idea.
- Part-way through the winter, evaluate how much hay has been used and shop for more, if needed, before you run out. Mix new hay with older hay for a week or so instead of suddenly introducing a new batch.
- Store hay in a dry place that has good ventilation. Avoid stacking bales too tightly; air movement will help to prevent mold.
Would you more information about the benefits of late-season hay for horses? Contact us at J & J Farms by clicking here!
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