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Stretching Your Horse's Hay Supply


Dr. Martin Adams, Equine Nutritionist for Southern States

If you find yourself "short" on hay, here are a few suggestions for "stretching" your horse's hay supply.

The first option is to feed a limited amount of a high quality chopped hay. These chopped hay products may be fed to totally replace the horse's hay needs, but are usually too expensive to justify feeding at a full replacement rate. For replacing some of your hay, feed chopped hay at 0.5% of body weight daily (5 pounds for a 1,000-pound horse) and provide baled hay at 1.0% of body weight daily (10 pounds for a 1,000-pound horse). Then adjust the amount of concentrate or grain, chopped and baled hay to maintain desired body condition.

The second option is to feed hay cubes. Advantages of hay cubes include less storage space and handling ease, and decreased feeding waste. Hay cubes have adequate particle size to maintain normal digestive health and prevent wood chewing, so they can be used to partially or totally replace baled hay. Be careful when adapting horses to hay cubes, horses may consume them too quickly and choke. Feed hay cubes close to the ground so the horse must chew the hay cubes before swallowing, otherwise wet or soak them with water to soften them and reduce the likelihood of choke if you provide them in buckets or bunks closer to the horse's mouth.

For replacing some of your hay, feed hay cubes at 0.5% of body weight daily (5 pounds for a 1,000-pound horse) and provide baled hay at 1.0% of body weight daily (10 pounds for a 1,000-pound horse). To replace all of your horse's forage needs as hay cubes, feed 1.0% to 2.0% of body weight daily (10 to 20 pounds for a 1,000-pound horse). Feed more or less hay cubes or adjust the amount of grain fed to maintain desired body condition.

The third option to consider is use a "hay-replacer" or "complete" horse feed. Horses normally have a daily minimum requirement for hay, 1.0% of body weight or 10 pounds per 1,000 pounds of body weight, to maintain proper digestive function. Southern States has horse feeds available that allow you to "stretch" your hay feeding by replacing some of the fiber.

When feeding one of these high-fiber or "hay-replacer" feeds, you can reduce your hay-feeding rate to only 0.5% of body weight per day (5 pounds for a 1,000-pound horse). While reducing hay feeding to only 0.5% of body weight daily, increase the feeding rate of a "hay replacer" or high-fiber horse feed to 1.0% to 1.5% (10 to 15 pounds) of body weight daily. And always remember to adjust the feeding rate to maintain proper body condition.

High fiber horse feeds that Southern States has available include Southern States Hay Stretcher and Solution, Legends® CarbCare Senior and Legends® CarbCarePerformance, and five Triple Crown feeds: Low Starch Formula, Complete Formula, Growth Formula, Senior Formula and TLC. These "fiber-based" feeds can be fed more safely at higher levels than conventional "grain-based" horse feeds. Highly digestible fiber sources used in these Southern States horse feeds include soybean hulls, alfalfa meal and shredded beet pulp. All horse feeds are "fixed", meaning all ingredients and their amounts remain the same, bag after bag.

Consider one of these feeding options, chopped hay, hay cubes, or a high-fiber horse feed to "stretch" your horse's hay supply safely.


Horse Feeds

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Southern States Hay Stretcher 50 lb
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Southern States Hay Stretcher 50 lb
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Triple Crown Alfa-Lox Forage for Horses 40lb
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Triple Crown Alfa-Lox Forage for Horses 40lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Timothy Pellets 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Timothy Pellets 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Beet Pulp Pellets 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Beet Pulp Pellets 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Alfalfa/Timothy Cubes 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Alfalfa/Timothy Cubes 40 lb
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Southern States All Grain Textured Horse Feed 50lb
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Southern States All Grain Textured Horse Feed 50lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Alfalfa Forage (Chopped) 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Alfalfa Forage (Chopped) 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Alfalfa/Timothy Chopped Forage 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Alfalfa/Timothy Chopped Forage 40 lb
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