Hay alternatives

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Hay alternatives

Postby horse_girl » Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:24 am

I am worried about the current (and impeding) hay shortage, and just wondered if there is any alternative I can feed my horse that will work out cheaper? Obviously it needs to be something that provides him with enough bulk throughout the day to keep him occupied, but not so much that he balloons - he's rather a good-doer!

Also, I have heard of people adding straw to hay/forage to bulk it out, would you recommend this and is it safe?

Thank you


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Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:59 am

Re: Hay alternatives

Postby Expert_NAF_Nutrition » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:27 am

Thank you for your enquiry. Unfortunately it looks like hay and straw shortages are something that we may all have to face this winter. There are plenty of alternatives if you are struggling to find hay this winter. Most of the major feed companies make high fibre, low calorie hay alternatives, however this is unlikely to be a cheaper alternative. Straw is an accetable mixer for hay but do make sure that it is good, clean straw and is mixed in with hay or haylage. The one thing to consider with straw is that it is quite abrasive, and in too large a quantity is not good for the gut. In fact feeding straw has been linked to the incidence of gastric ulcers. However in smaller quantities then this shouldn't be an issue. Ideally I would advise then soaking the hay, straw mix and feeding while still wet, as this will physically soften the fibres making them more digestible.
Feeding some straw with the hay is particularly a good idea for the good do-ers as it provides fibre to maintain gut health and give them something to chew on, without adding excess calories. In fact a partial straw mix is the basis that a lot of the low calorie feeds designed for good do-ers is based on.
Remember with any high fibre, low calorie diet it will be important to also include a broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement, as all forms of fibre tend to be deficient in micronutrients, and straw particularly so. If your horse is inclined to maintain his weight even over winter, then look for one designed for the good do-er, such as NAF Slimline.
I hope this has answered your question. Any further questions or queries please do get back to us, and please let us know how you and your horse get on with NAF products.
Kind regards,
Kate Jones
Snr Nutritionist

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