Hay FAQs

  • Which Cutting of hay is best for horses?

    What is best for your horse can definitely be subjective and be a personal preference. Different cuttings can result in varying amounts of proteins and sugars. Hay from Arizona tends to be richer in nutrients in the spring and into the early summer months. In the months of July, August, and September, protein counts go down, and these times of the year tend to be the preferred cuttings for horses.

    There are generally 8 to 10 cuttings a year in Arizona, which makes the summer ideal for quality horse cutting alfalfa. Colorado or higher elevations generally only have 2 to 3 cuttings a year, which tends to make all their cuttings high in protein and nutrients. In our opinion, 18-19% protein is the ideal level for horses eating an alfalfa diet. 

    There are differences in hay from one cutting to the next. In Alfalfa, the first cutting produces thicker stems which increases the fiber value of the hay but may lower palatability. The second cutting tends to have thinner stems, large leaves, and higher protein.

    The fact is, the number of cutting isn’t as important as factors like maturity, soil, weather, contaminates (weeds, mold, dust), conditioning, and storage. 

    Consider the needs of your horses when determining the best hay. Some horses like lactating mares, young growing horses, work or show horses may need higher amounts of protein than older more sedentary horses. Too much protein can cause health problems so the needs of the individual horse must be taken into consideration.

  • Alfalfa hay vs timothy hay vs Teff hay?

    Alfalfa, Timothy, and Teff hay are all good feed for animals but which one you might feed depends upon the age and activity level of the animal.

    Alfalfa has been a staple feed for animals for a long time. It is in the legume family like clover hay. Legume hay is generally high in protein and nutrients. Animals can get obese on Alfalfa because of the starch levels so the intake of Alfalfa hay should be closely monitored.

    Timothy hay is quite popular in parts of the country. Timothy hay is a grass. It only has about half the protein of Alfalfa and only slightly more fiber. The NSC (Non-structural Carbohydrates) which is a measurement of carbohydrates and starch, is about the same as Alfalfa. 

    Teff grass hay has been called “the perfect horse hay”. Teff contains a high amount of protein and fiber which are essential to your animal’s growth and gut health. It is also low in starch. Since starch turns to sugar in your animal, the low starch level can improve health and, in horses, make them easier to train and handle.

  • Different types of hay for horses?

    Different types of hay for horses would include Legumes such as Alfalfa premium, alfalfa #2, alfalfa #3. Additionally, there are a wide variety of grass hays in Arizona like bermudagrass, teff grass, timothy grass, orchard grass, and sudangrass. Then there are cereal grain hays like oat hay, beardless wheat, ryegrass, beardless barley, and corn stalks.

    Different horses need different amounts of nutrition. Growing horses, lactating horses, show horses, workhorses, will have higher nutritional needs than older sedimentary horses. The list below shows the average needs of horses in general. This doesn’t include water and mineral requirements Check with your Vet to determine your horse’s exact needs.

    Protein:

     Growing horse 15-18%

    Older horse 10-12%

    Digestible Energy (DE)

    Active horse: 34.5 Mcals/lb

    Minimum maintenance: 20 Mcals/lb 

    Non-Structural Carbohydrates (NSC):

    <10%

    Calcium (Ca) and Phosphorus (P):

    1:1-3:1 equal or more calcium to phosphorus 

    Note: The following values are averages. Hay grown in different areas and different conditions may vary,

    Alfalfa hay

    Crude Protein – 15.0% – 22.0%

    Crude Fiber – 25.0%

    Non-Structural Carb (NSC) – 8.75% – 13.25%

    DE, Mcal/Lb. – 1.06 – 1.32

    Calcium – 1.28%

    Phosphorus – 0.24%

    Ca:P Ratio – 5.3:1

    Clover hay:

    Crude Protein – 14-18%

    Crude Fiber – 22-25%

    NSC – 16%

    DE, Mcal/Lb – .82-.94%

    Calcium – 1.07-1.71

    Phosphorus – .19-.29

    Ca:P Ratio – 4.2-5.9%

    Bermudagrass hay:

    Crude Protein – 7.0% – 10.0%

    Crude Fiber – 28%

    NSC – average of 12% (range 7% – 18%)

    DE, Mcal/Lb. – 0.7 – 1.0

    Calcium – 0.43%

    Phosphorus – 0.16%

    Ca:P Ratio – 2.7:1

    Teff Grass hay:

    Crude Protein- 12-20%

    Crude Fiber- 50-57%

    NSC- 5.4-8.4%

    DE, Mcal/lb- .92%

    Calcium- .32-.55%

    Phosphorus- .18%

    Ca:P Ratio- > 1.7:1

    Beardless Wheatgrass hay:

    Crude Protein –

    Crude Fiber –

    NSC –

    DE, Mcal/Lb. –

    Calcium – .33

    Phosphorus – .21

    Ca:P Ratio – 1.56:1

    Timothy hay:

    Crude Protein – 6.0% – 10.0%

    Crude Fiber – 30%

    NSC – average of 12% (range 7% – 18%)

    DE, Mcal/Lb. – 0.7 to 1.0

    Calcium – 0.38%

    Phosphorus – 0.17%

    Ca:P Ratio – 2.2:1

    Orchardgrass hay:

    Crude Protein – 7.0% – 11.0%

    Crude Fiber – 30%

    NSC – average of 12% (range 7% – 18%)

    DE, Mcal/Lb. – 0.7 – 1.0

    Calcium – 0.34%

    Phosphorus – 0.23%

    Ca:P Ratio – 1.5:1

    Oat Grass hay:

    Crude Protein – 8.0% – 10.0%

    Crude Fiber – 28%

    NSC – an average of 22.1%

    DE, Mcal/Lb – 0.82 – 0.96

    Calcium – 0.29%

    Phosphorus – 0.23%

    Ca:P Ratio – 1.3:1

  • What is the difference between coastal hay vs Bermuda grass hay?

    While coastal grass is used as a slang term for Bermuda, coastal is its own specific hybrid. Generally, it is not irrigated, and it tends to be stemmier due to the watering from the rainfall.

  • What do horses eat?

    Horses are non-ruminant herbivores. They are often referred to as “grazers”, and eat grass, hay, but can also eat other concentrates such as pellets. A horse should eat about 1 to 2 percent of its body weight in roughage, like grass or hay, every day. It is important for them to receive the required nutrients in order to expect them to perform and function. 

     A large portion of a horse’s diet is made up of forage. This could be from a pasture in the Summer or hay in the winter. There are two major types of hay, Legumes and Grass. 

    Legumes are hays like Alfalfa and Clover. They tend to be high in protein and DE (digestible energy). Care must be taken to not feed too much legume hay because of the high protein content. This can cause obesity and liver problems.

    Grass hay includes Bermudagrass, Timothy, Teff, Orchardgrass, cereal grass like barley, wheat, oats, and rye. Grass hay tends to be lower in protein than Alfalfa but higher in fiber. Some horse owners will feed a mix of legume and grass hay.


    Treats: Horses love apples and carrots Horses can eat many fruits and vegetables. Foods to avoid giving your horse would include tomatoes, onions, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, foods from the nightshade family or cause intestinal gas.

  • How much does a bale of hay weigh?

    Hay is baled in different ways and the resulting bale weight depends on which method is used. Large round bales can weigh from 563 to 1584 depending on the size of the bale, type of hay, and the moisture content.

    There are a few types of square bales. A two-string bale will be about 19”x16”x36” and weighs 40-75 lbs. These small bales are easy to handle but are not as readily available as the three-string bales. The three-string bales are probably the most common bales found at feed stores. They are about 22”x15”x44” and weigh between 90-130lbs. Another type of square bale is 3”x4”x8” or 4”x4”x8”.  These bales weigh from 1000 to 1300 pounds. Some square bales can be as large as 4”x4”x8” and weigh 2000 or more.

  • How much does a bale of hay cost?

    Prices for hay vary greatly depending upon the type of hay and where you live. The quantity you purchase will also affect your final price.

    If you are buying three-string bales at a feed store, you may see prices from $9.00 - $16.00 a bale depending on the type and quality of the hay.

    For bulk orders, the price will be figured by the ton. According to the USDA in February of 2020, for Alfalfa, the price can range between $250.00-$380.00 a ton with some mixes costing more.

    For grass hay, the per ton price can range from $100- $380 depending on the type and quality of the hay.

    For grains like Barley, Wheat, Corn, or Oats the price ranges from $105- $185.00

  • Best hay for horses in winter?

    During the winter, horses will utilize more of their energy in order to keep themselves warm. This means that horses kept outside during the winter, in more intense weather conditions, need to be fed with that kept in mind. The hays with the higher energy levels, like an Alfalfa or Teff, can be mixed with a grass for the best results. By doing this, the horse’s levels can properly replenish with the extra work its body is handling

    All horses should be fed according to their needs, Depending on a horse’s maturity level, activity level, lactating status, and specific nutritional requirements, horses will need different combinations of feeds or supplements. Check with your Vet.

    That being said, good Teff Grass Hay is an all-around great feed for horses. It has a high protein value while maintaining high fiber levels and low starch levels. Many horses' bad behaviors have been improved by switching to Teff hay.  Because of the lower starch level, horses tend to be calmer when they are fed Teff. It can be the answer for horses with allergies to Alfalfa or problems with blood sugar.

    Alfalfa and Timothy hay are some of the most popular horse hays but Alfalfa may have too much protein for your horses while Timothy may not have enough. Teff hay is high in fiber which is vital to good horse health.

  • Nutritional value of hay?

    The nutrition value of hay depends on many factors. First of all, the type of hay is the greatest determining factor of the nutritional value. For instance, Alfalfa hay tends to have the highest protein value (around 20%) but can range from 9%-26%. The reasons for the difference in protein depends on the maturity of the Alfalfa (less mature = higher protein), the weather conditions (Alfalfa loves sunshine), the soil conditions (better soil can increase protein levels), weed content, harvesting conditions (rain after cutting can lower nutrition), the number of the cutting, and storage conditions (longer storage can mean lower nutrition). 

    Grass hay tends to be lower in protein than Alfalfa but is higher in fiber. Teff Grass hay is lower in starch (.1-.3%) than Alfalfa (2-2.5%).

  • What is legume hay?

    Legume hay is the result of cutting, drying and storing long stem plants. Examples of this type are clover, birdsfoot, and the most popular being alfalfa. A bacterium in the plant's roots allows it to transform the nitrogen into a protein.

    Compared to grasses, legumes are a very good source of dietary protein. In addition, legumes will contain higher levels of energy, in relation to calories, and also more calcium compared to grasses. 

    Legume hay may be too rich for some animals and may need to be blended with grass hay or lower quality Alfalfa.

  • What is alfalfa hay?

    Alfalfa hay is a popular feed for animals. It is readily available hay in most parts of the United States. It is high in protein and DE (digestible energy). For young, active, or growing horses, this can provide all the needed nutrients. 

    Care must be taken with an animal’s weight when feeding straight Alfalfa. Because of the high starch levels, obesity can be the result when an animal’s intake of Alfalfa is not regulated. It may be necessary to supplement your horse’s diet with fiber due to the low fiber content of Alfalfa.

  • What is teff hay?

    Teff hay is a soft, thin stem warm-season lovegrass that originates from Ethiopia. The horses on this diet have been reported to behave in a calmer, more trainable manner. Healthwise, horses that eat this grass are less prone to laminitis and in some cases have been cured of their stomach ulcers. 

    Teff hay is a fairly new addition to the animal hay market in the US. In the past attempts have been made to grow and market Teff hay as an animal feed. Until now the results have been somewhat disappointing. Many owners who tried Teff hay in the past reported that their animals didn’t like it. The problem was the conditions that the Teff was grown in and the maturity level at harvest.

    Fast forward to 2020 and we not only have a Teff hay that animals love but one they thrive on.  The difference is Teff is now grown as a rotational crop with vegetables. This means it is grown in the best soil possible. It is harvested in an early stage before the seed heads develop. This eliminates the bitter seeds and gives the Teff higher nutritional values.

    Teff is higher in fiber than Alfalfa and Timothy hay.  It contains twice the fiber of Alfalfa and nearly twice as much as Timothy. Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system in an animal and Teff provides that fiber. 

    Teff is low in Starch. Where Alfalfa has a starch level of about 2.5%, Teff starch levels are usually around 0.1%. This lower starch level means less sugar.  Less sugar means animals are calmer and easier to handle. It is fantastic hay for overweight animals or animals with blood sugar level problems.

    Teff is hypoallergenic. We’ve seen horses on breathing medication, taken off the medication when their hay is switched from Alfalfa to Teff. This can also be an advantage for people with hay allergies that take care of horses.

    In summary, if sourced from the right suppliers, Teff hay is the ideal feed for horses and many other animals.


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