foxtail in hay for horses

Asked January 24, 2016, 1:05 PM EST

Ive been a horse trainer in Palmer since 1989, and I have never seen such problems with foxtail in our hay before. Im on my third round bale that's FULL of it. The time it takes me to sift through it and pick out all I can find is mind-numbing. Can someone tell me what exactly the inherent risks and dangers if foxtail is ingested? Weve heard horror stories and I know that foxtail has always been a dirty word with hay growers AND us buyers. im at my wits end.

Matanuska-Susitna Borough Alaska hay horse health

1 Response

Horses consuming seeds of foxtail barley can be troublesome. When the seeds form, awns with small sharp head along the edge extend from the seed. These awns can abrade or become lodged in the skin, mouth, nose, and eyes of grazing horses and livestock. Signs that your horse have grazed foxtail barley or consumed hay contaminated with foxtail barley may consist of: drooling and lack of appetite. Drooling and loss of appetite are caused by awns that are lodged in the mouth and most likely caused the mouth to become inflamed and sore, resulting in the formation of abscesses.

I know hay is hard to come by in Alaska, but I would try to find another supplier. A grower who doesn't take steps to control this weed is irresponsible.