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Questions about Hay for Horses

Hay is often fresh, clean grass that is high in fiber and nutrients. Many issues may arise when using poor quality hay for horses. There are several types of hay that are best suited for horses. To learn more about hay and horses, take a look below at the questions that have been answered by Experts.

What is all the hype about low carb hay?

Basically when a person mentions low-carb hay, the person is referring to nonstructural carbohydrates (NSCs). NSCs are starches and sugar found in plant cells. Many studies have stated that NSCs may not be good for horses because they don't break down in the stomach and pass to the bloodstream whole.

Colic and laminitis have been blamed on over exposure to grass sugars and over feeding grain. Low carb diets seem to be more popular now and people are beginning to realize that certain hay provides a low carbohydrate option. Many hay producers are now planting low carbohydrate hay seed to cater to horse owners. Timothy hay is very popular NSC hay. Providing a low carbohydrate hay may further a horse's health by avoiding the onset of start/sugar related illness.

Will a horse get sick if it eats moldy hay?

Cough and colic may be the most common issues associated with horses eating moldy hay. Common symptoms of a horse with colic may include the horse looking or biting at his sides, tail swishing, rolling, pawing the ground, laying down and getting up, becoming uninterested in food or water, grinding of the teeth and labored breathing.

Veterinary assistance is usually required if a horse shows these symptoms. If the veterinarian cannon reach the horse for several hours or until the following day, Banamine may be given every 12 hours for 24 hours. A horse weighing 1,000 pounds may receive 10 cc in the muscle.

Mineral oil may be dispensed with a syringe by mouth. A 1,000 pound horse may have 1 gallon and this should be administered slowly. The syringe is placed in the mouth towards the cheek and slowly released. If done improperly or too fast, there may be a risk of sending the mineral oil to the lungs and causing pneumonia.

Mold spores from moldy hay may enter the horse's lung. If the horse begins to cough an anti-fungal medication may be required.

Can a horse have hay pellets and grain without actual hay?

Generally, baled hay is considered a better option for the horse. Horses require the roughage found in baled hay to help support a healthy digestive tract. Furthermore, pellets and cubes tend to be more expensive than baled hay. The average horse requires 1-2% of body weight in hay daily. Basically a 1,000 horse may require 10-20 pounds of hay per day. While many horses do survive on hay pellets and cubes, it is usually better to provide baled hay.

When storage becomes a problem, some people choose to place large round bales in the lot for their horses. When a horse has good quality hay, grain is generally not required. If the horse is pregnant, growing, or a working horse, some grain supplement may be needed.

Can alfalfa hay cause foundering?

Usually, the only danger of feeding alfalfa is when a person suddenly switches from grass hay to the richer legume. The best approach to switching a horse to different hay may be to slowly introduce the new hay with the current hay. Mixed hay is often actually considered better for the horse.

As for founder, there are several things that may cause founder. Basically anything that can cause the foot to become inflamed and cut off circulation is an issue. Founder may occur with fever, ingesting toxin, concussion to the hoof, over indulgence of lush pasture or hay, over graining, or drinking water when the horse is over heated. The use of walnut shavings has also been known to cause founder.

Can horses eat sugar cane hay?

There are many locations around the world that successfully feed horse's sugar cane hay; however, the sugar cane hay must first be pressed and then fed to horses. When feeding sugar cane hay, it should be treated as a supplement to replace grazing and is generally only part of a horse's diet. The reason being that sugar cane is considered low quality hay.

With so many types of hay on the market, many people wonder which is best suited for horse consumption. Many questions arise when trying to select the best hay for a horse. If a person has questions or concerns regarding hay for horses, the person should ask an Expert for veterinary insight and suggestions.
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