When should I give hay to my horse?

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Horses are monogastric HERBIVORES. Its digestive health is directly related to the quality and quantity of hay available. It is therefore important to ensure that your horse always has hay to eat, but the quantity should be adapted to its environment and you should make sure that it is good quality and properly stored.

What should I give my horse first: hay or feed?

Ideally, your horse should always have hay to eat. If this is the case, it does not matter whether the first meal of the day is feed or hay. However, if your horse spends most of the night without access to hay, then you should give it its concentrate feed first and the hay afterwards because horses are not made to have empty stomachs.

Adapt the amount of hay to the horse’s environment

For horses living in boxes on straw bedding, a minimum of 1-1.5kg of hay is required for 100 kg of live weight. Horses on artificial bedding, due to respiratory problems, for example, must be given an additional 0.5 kg of hay per 100 kg of live weight to cover total dry matter intake requirements.

Straw cellulose is not as easy to digest (lignin) as meadow hay (true cellulose).

Horses fed ‘quality meadow hay’ do not eat straw, thereby avoiding digestive problems (such as straw impaction in the gut).

Hay is essential for horses living in boxes.

Hay should be reduced or completely removed for horses living in fields depending on the quality (season) and amount of grass available.

Hay quality and storage are also important

The later the hay is harvested, the more ‘woody’ and less digestible it will be.

Hay should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated area; horses should never be fed mouldy or dusty hay, or hay contaminated by animal excreta (cats, mice, etc.).

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