Hay substitute

Asked December 8, 2012, 2:23 PM EST

Can horses eat along with hay oat straw, corn stalks, beet pulp, crushed corn to stretch out our hay to spring cutting? Also a ratio for each substitute item?

Michigan horses nutrition horse nutrition

1 Response

Straw can be used to replace all of the hay if the diet is properly supplemented with extra protein and minerals: for example, free-choice straw supplemented with 5 to 7 pounds (2.2 to 3.2 kg) of a 16 per cent protein grain mix or 5 to 7 pounds (2.2 to 3.2 kg) of alfalfa. However, straw is best used to replace only a portion of the hay, which still significantly extends your hay supply. Oat straw is softer and tends to be more palatable to horses than wheat or barley straw. When feeding straw, always make sure your horse has an adequate source of water available to reduce the risk of impaction colic. In addition, give the horse's digestive system time to adjust to the fibrous straw by gradually increasing the amount of straw in the diet over two weeks. Straw should not be fed to weanlings or yearlings because they do not have the digestive capacity or ability to utilize straw as well as mature, adult horses. From: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex4575 Dried beet pulp is a common horse feed and is often used to decrease starch in a diet. It can be fed at the same weight as hay. Most nutritionists recommend substituting beet pulp for 50% of your forage. Therefore, if you feed 20 pounds of hay, you could substitute 10 lbs of beet pulp for the hay. If you are feeding older horses, you may want to soak the beet pulp before feeding. Research suggests that soaking beet pulp isn’t necessary to safely feed it. However, many nutritionists and veterinarians still suggest soaking it for 30 minutes prior to feeding it, especially when feeding to older horses, or horses that eat very fast. Corn and stalks are subject to moldy corn poisoning which is highly toxic to horses. The mold can only be seen with a special microscope. Therefore, I wouldn’t advise feeding corn stalks to horses. Learn more at: http://www.equinews.com/answer-exchange/feeding-ear-corn-and-corn-stalks-horses In general, with the price of beet pulp and commercial grains, you need to calculate how much a hay alternative will cost for each feeding and compare that to buying hay (including transportation cost and high price). I live at the base of the thumb in MI, and while hay is high and hard to find, it is still less cost for me to feed a higher quality hay (legume mix) and not feed any grain, versus stretching hay with beet pulp. You can find hay in Michigan at the following website: http://web2.canr.msu.edu/hay/ Learn more: http://www.aaep.org/health_articles_view.php?print_friendly=true&id=111 Other resources: http://www3.ag.purdue.edu/counties/warrick/Documents/AG/Horse_Feeding_Recommendations.pdf http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/livestk/01625.html