Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

It's that time of year that I love.....driving around seeing fields swathed and baled with hay! There is nothing like the smell of a hay field and knowing there is hay out there to stock up on and feed our horses through the winter!

I have some questions for you. Do you feed hay? If so, what kind of hay do you feed your horse/s- and why? I often wonder this as I have come across so many different opinions on what kind of hay to feed horses. Do you feed what is local, what is affordable, what your vet recommends? Do you feed what your horse's performance or health needs might dictate? Do different horses on your property get different kinds of hay?

I'll start- My Boy has been on a mixed grass hay for around 3 years. This has varied from a more "local"  grass hay (which really varies from grower to grower and can often be weedy) to a higher protein grass hay from another part of the state that specializes in hay farms. When I first leased My Boy, he was on alfalfa but was very gasey. He can still be gasey but taking him off the richer hay has helped. A vet told me that he also needed to be on a grass hay as his level of work wasn't high enough for alfalfa. Interestingly, I noticed my horse has fewer "hyper" moments on grass hay than when he was on alfalfa.

I have paid anywhere from $4-10 a bale for the local grass hay. Hard to believe now, but a  few years ago I paid up to $23 a bale for Eastern grass hay! This was in the winter months when local suppliers were out of the local grass.

Here's to a season of good hay!

Ranch Girl
p.s. Just a reminder about my Mystery Foal Contest! Go HERE to enter if you haven't already. The contest will be running until Ruby foals, which is unknown but will be in the next month.


Reddunappy said...

I feed grass hay, eastern Wa or Or, that our local dairy brings in. I just paid $16 a bale for first cutting alfalfa/grass mix 160+lb 3 string bales. I get straight grass when I can. My mares get goofy on alfalfa!! Plus I have been told its hard on their kidneys. Adult horses, unless working really really hard only need around 8-10% protein and alfalfa can be up to 18%!!! the eastern hay can be 12% or so too! The local grass here, because we have to harvest it so late after the ground dries out is only around 6% protein, sometimes it needs some extra supplementation.
Only my old mare with bad teeth gets grain am and pm. Senior feed.
Its hard to stay consistant with the hay when I rely on what the dairy brings in and has available.

Mama H said...

When not out on the big pasture at our boarding facility, which usually doesn't require additional feeding, our horses get alfalfa. Right now, Maria is in a smaller pasture that gets fed alfalfa twice daily. Crow is out on the big pasture, which right now gets fed alfalfa once or twice a week. Honestly, I've never fed my horses any thing other than alfalfa, except to maybe supplement my performance horses with some type of grain.

Tammy said...

We do our own hay. Its a mixture of blue grass and a pasture grass mix. The field we hay was a former golf range. Our horse's pasture is of the same mix. We have it baled in big round bales and they free choice on it all winter. We also have an alfalfa field that we crop share with the neighbor who cuts it for us. We have it put in small squares and supplement them with it during the cold winter months. If we were buying, this same hay would cost about $75 - $125 a ton depending on how the hay season was that year. The big round bales weight around 1,000 lbs.

cdncowgirl said...

When we bought our place last year it came with a hayfield... its crested wheat with a little bit of brome and a teeny bit of alfalfa.
Our neighbour bales it for us. I got about 350 small squares and 67 small, soft core rounds. It cost $1/bale for the squares and $10/bale for the rounds. Last year I could probably have sold the squares for $4/bale and the rounds for $50-65/bale.
When its time to re-seed we will definitely use mostly crested wheat again with something else mixed in... not necessarily alfalfa.

strivingforsavvy said...

My horses are only on hay in the winter. I have to watch their weight carefully as they get fat easily. I feed mostly E Oregon Orchard grass, but also get some alfalfa and local grass hay. I weigh each horse's hay since flakes can vary in weight quite a bit. Most of the horses get a bit of alfalfa (about 10% of total weight of hay for a day). I have also found that too much alfalfa is not good. The local hay is for night time when they are in their stalls. I consider it 'filler' hay - not as nutritious or fattening. It keeps their gut moving and gives them something to do.

gtyyup said...

I'd prefer to feed all grass hay, but since we raise alfalfa, we keep 6-7 ton of that to supplement them in the winter months. Colt gets work hard and actually gets alfalfa all year long along with grass hay and fresh grass when it's growing...he gets all he can eat of the grass hay, but only gets two flakes of alfalfa. My mustangs are EASY keepers and I don't feed them any alfalfa. It's confusing to try to keep everyone getting what they should have!

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

call me a fool but i feed the best hay in the world and it is in your state! it is pure timothy and no weed. three string bales. it is very very high due to the shipping costs to get it on the east coast but so far (knock on wood) my horses have not colicked in 8 years and i attirbute this success to this wonderful hay and of course me since i am taking care of them now. our local hay is awful and nobody around here knows how to put up good hay.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Since we don't have any grass growth in New Mexico until Monsoon Season in late July/Early August most horses are kept on dry lots or dry pastures, so we all feed hay year round.
Apache is an air-fern and can get fat just thinking about food. I've only fed her alfalfa twice when grass hasn't wasn't available around here, and those are two times that kicked me and acted cranky and unhappy. She loves the taste of alfalfa...what horse doesn't, but like people with lactose intolerance, it makes her gassy, grouchy, moody, and uncomfortable, so we try to avoid it. And since she doesn't work very hard, it's not a necessary feed.
We get our hay from either southern Colorado or California. Right now we're feeding 3 string Bermuda grass for about $20 a bale. During the winter it seems our hay is pasture/meadow grasses.

We rarely ever buy hay from New Mexico. We've discovered growers don't know what they're doing and folks have had problems with lethal blister beetles in their hay and lots of course, unedible weeds, and we've found so much trash in our bales, like rusty cans, toilet paper, fast food containers, snakes, dead cats, and dog poop. It's crazy!
And the only hay I've ever had mold issues with has come from New Mexico grown hay.

It's a shame, because I'd rather buy local as much as possible, but not at the risk of harming my animals.


oregonsunshine said...

In Oregon, we fed E. Oregon Orchard until we discovered that my husband was deathly allergic to something in it. (Now we suspect it was a type of sagebrush pollen, we think). So, we switched to a local Timothy-Rye and then an Orchard-Timothy mix. I love Orchard. It's what I grew up feeding all the show ponies at the big show barns I worked at.

Now that we've been here in Georgia for a year, I can tell you that I HATE Bermuda. Hate it, hate it, hate it! It takes so very much more to keep my Casey (big QH) at weight on it, be it in pasture or as hay. Whereas he should eat about 20 lbs of hay a day, he's free fed from a round (why do they love rounds so much here?), where he's averaging about 28 lbs of hay a day to maintain weight.

Now, with that said, my Georgia born and bred QH mare stays fat on Bermuda and would probably be fat on air.

I simply cannot get anything else in my area unless I order a semi load from another state. Unfortunately, I don't have any storage for more than about 25 small, 35 lbs. bales at a time.

Oh, and that hay is very precious! We're paying $8/ 35 lbs bale and $95/ 400 lb round. It's highway robbery!