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Can Horses Eat Cow Hay? Dry cow hay is less expense than dairy and horse hay. The protein content of dry cow hay ranges anywhere from 10 to 22 percent. It is often off color, very mature, and may contain a little mold. While dry cow hay is fine for cattle in the feedlot, it is not fine for horses.
Is there a difference between horse hay and cow hay? Horse and cow hay are mainly different in how good quality it is; cow hay may have weeds in it, horse hay usually doesn’t. Horse hay is usually nice and green, where cow hay might have been rained on, and though dry, might be less green. Horse hay is not moldy, where some cow hay might be moldy.
Can cows and horses eat the same hay? Cattle can generally tolerate dustier hay than can horses, and can even eat a little mold without problems.
What kind of hay is bad for horses? Some hay types are particularly prone to high nitrate levels and should be avoided if there are options. These include: Sorghum, Sudan, Johnsongrass and Pearl Millet. High levels of simple carbohydrate (sugars, starch) are an issue for horses with insulin resistance and can occur in virtually any type of hay.
The hay might contain excessive dust, mold, weeds, foreign debris, or a high stem-to-leaf ratio. On the flip side, cow hay could mean dairy-quality alfalfa, a pure legume forage that is rich in protein, often over 25%, and therefore inappropriate for most classes of horses.
Good quality hay should be bright green in color with little fading. A bleached, yellow, brown or black color may indicate aged hay, mold or poor storage conditions. Storage condition and age have a significant effect on vitamin content of hays. In some cases, they can replace hay in the diet entirely.
While some cows can sustain many of their needs on grass alone, they are usually the non-lactating cows (i.e., cows that aren’t producing milk). A lactating dairy cow has a high metabolism, and is very similar to a marathon runner or high performance athlete.
Producers should strive to harvest 1st cutting hay in the early heading stage. Hay harvested at this stage should meet the nutrient requirements for late pregnant cows. Second cutting hay should be used to feed lactating cows. The date of 1st cutting will be highly dependant on the type of spring weather.
Horses have a different digestive system to cows and sheep. As a general rule, a 500 kg horse will eat less than a 500 kg cow but a horse wastes more pasture. The stocking rate for horses is similar to that of cattle.
The most common choice of hay is second cutting, but first cutting is also good for horses, plus it is usually cheaper than the other two. Choose hay that is soft, green, and leafy, with thin stems, so it is easier for horses to eat.
Timothy hay is one of the most popular hays fed to horses. It can be quite expensive, depending on whether it has to be shipped long distances. Timothy must be harvested in the pre- or early-bloom stage to ensure a high nutrient content.
Alfalfa hay and good quality grass hays are preferable to stemmy and mature hays that have tougher fiber to ferment. The small intestine loses some function – Older horses find it harder to digest protein in the small intestine.
While it is true that horses digest fibrous foods less efficiently than their ruminant counterparts, a horse’s unique needs dictate how much nutrition it actually requires from hay. Therefore, it’s a myth that all horses always require higher quality hay than cattle.
Many pleasure and trail horses don’t need grain: good-quality hay or pasture is sufficient. If hay isn’t enough, grain can be added, but the bulk of a horse’s calories should always come from roughage. Horses are meant to eat roughage, and their digestive system is designed to use the nutrition in grassy stalks.
But it’s a myth that horses should never be fed round hay bales. In truth, properly stored and handled round bales are perfectly safe for horses and may actually be a smart addition in many feed management situations.
Rained-on hay can be a suitable forage, especially for horses prone to laminitis. Forage quality tends to be retained if: The rain occurs soon after cutting when the forage has had little time to dry.
Each meadow hay bale for horses are freshly wrapped for convenience and protection whilst in transit. This hay has adequate protein levels and is particularly suitable for horses, ponies and donkeys prone to laminitis.
Fibre provided by forage is the mainstay for equine digestive health. Every horse or pony should have a minimum fibre intake of 15g/kg bodyweight (dry matter) per day, which is about 9kg of hay or 10.5kg of haylage for a 500kg horse.
Brome, or smooth bromegrass, is a highly palatable and clean cool season grass that provides excellent quality hay when properly managed. Typically raised in the Midwest and harvested once a year from late May to early June, brome will be very leafy and does not contain coarse or hard stems.
However the nutritional value of coarse or stemmy hay may be low, leading to weight loss or nutritional deficiencies. Very coarse hays and straws can increase the risk of abdominal pain (colic) and intestinal impaction. For this reason, coarse hays should not be fed to older horses or horses with dental problems.
Thirty-six pounds of hay is close to one small square bale of hay per day, taking into consideration some waste. Conversely, feeding one large round bale of hay, to two or three steers or cows will last a few weeks.
Some common cool-season perennial grasses suitable for grazing include orchard grass, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass. Warm-season grasses are more efficient at gathering carbon dioxide while using less water, which is why they can be more productive during hot, dry weather.
“Corn residue is one of the lowest cost forages on a cost per pound of energy. That’s why mixing a high energy and protein feed like distillers’ grains with a low quality forage like corn stalks is so cost effective. Distillers’ is often a low-cost source of both energy and protein.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates what cows cannot eat, and the full list, which is here, includes these highlights: “unborn calf carcasses,” “dehydrated garbage,” and “fleshings hydrolysate.” You’re also not allowed to feed cattle the meat and meat byproducts from cows and other mammals, though there
In this case, a bull wins since they are typically heavier than the average horse which comes in at approximately 1,100 pounds!