Over the years I've had the pleasure of speaking to thousands of customers and listening to their concerns about obesity, gastric ulcers, boredom and consumption of manure, dirt and shavings for their meal fed horses (or donkeys, mules and grazing barnyard companions). They really want to feed more hay or transition to free-choice to satiate their herd, but they don't have the confidence to make the switch.
Feeding limited amounts of highly palatable/digestible energy hay perpetuates the vicious cycle of much anticipated meals, followed by periods of time without forage. And that's not the way horses were designed to eat. So, the gastric acid discomfort builds up, boredom begins and our horses become increasingly anxious - and sometimes aggressive - come meal time.
Read on to learn how a simple shift in your approach and forage selection can 1) reduce or eliminate meal time stress and 2) give your horse more chew time and bulk (without the weight gain).
Hay is the foundation of the majority of horse, donkey and mule diets - yet it rarely includes a nutritional analysis. Most of us would never consider purchasing any type of bagged feed or supplement without a label/nutritional analysis. Testing your hay is the only way to know the nutritional values - allowing you to compensate for deficiencies, imbalances (ratios) and possible excessive components.
A balanced core diet is necessary to achieve optimum health for your horse or herd. Read on to learn how to test your hay, where to send the sample and how to calculate NSCs using the results. Related links are provided to guide you through the process.
Katy Watts is a leading worldwide authority on sugar levels in grass and hay and the conditions that influence them. She has a BS in crop and soil science from Michigan State University. Katy worked as an independent contract researcher performing pesticide efficacy and residue studies and consulting for farmers growing potatoes and grain. When her horses experienced laminitis, she switched her focus to sugar content of grass and hay. Over the next decade, she wrote articles in veterinary journals, conducted cooperative field studies with academics, spoke at numerous veterinary and nutrition conferences, wrote various book chapters and lectured worldwide. Katy is the founder of safergrass.org.
Read on to learn more about Katy's findings from her field studies in her plight as a plant scientist to better understand the factors that contribute to NSC (NonStructual Carbohydrate) levels in plants.
Considering horses are grazing herbivores and their digestive tract is designed for almost continual trickle feeding (16-18 hours a day) of fibrous feeds, what best suits the equine physically and mentally as a primary source of forage?
Read on to learn the pros and cons of the various forms of grass hay.
The #1 concern and source of stress for customers I have had the pleasure of speaking with is they worry about their horse “standing around with nothing to eat” or their horses are eating dirt, manure or shavings. This article focuses on the plight to choose the safest, always have hay source to slow feed if you can't test your hay. If you do test, the palatability factors described can still be used to your advantage!
Winter can be challenging for equines and their guardians. Keeping warm is often a valid concern - yet there are differences in how horses and people cope with lower temperatures.
Read on to learn common misconceptions about the cold and how to stoke internal body heat while providing a healthier, natural lifestyle for your herd.
Hay is a whole food, right? It is if naturally cured prior to baling - otherwise it contains preservatives, which may have adverse effects on you and your horse’s health.
The moisture content of hay is monitored prior to baling. With too little moisture, hay becomes brittle, loses nutritional value, and can potentially become unpalatable. Too much moisture can cause hay to mold and experience thermal expansion in storage severe enough to cause combustion creating a severe fire hazard.
The purpose of this article is to inform equine guardians of the potential for unhealthy levels of nitrates in hay to increase awareness that will lead to change. You can’t see smell or taste nitrates. They can lurk in the prettiest, greenest best smelling bale of hay. The only way to know the levels you are feeding is to test your forage. It is optimum to test prior to purchase.
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