Hay is an important part of the Equine diet. The ideal diet should consist of high quality grass and legume mix hay at 1.5-2% of the body weight of the horse. That is for a horse that is out to pasture most or all the time. Horses that are performance or endurance may need extra calories from grain. There are so many different types of grain, supplements, and feeding options where do you begin? The answer is with a hay analysis.
A hay analysis will tell you what minerals, vitamins, starch, sugar and protein percent are of the hay. This will give you a starting point to see which supplements you need to add or what amount of grain you need to feed. All equine nutrition is based off the numbers provided by NRC. The book will tell you what percentage of protein, amounts of minerals and vitamins, and how much to feed for all levels of work and sizes. If you have questions or would like to know more about how to read a hay analysis report contact me. I would love to consult with you about how to use the numbers in the report to provide a balanced diet for your horse. Once you have a starting point or foundation then you can add from there. Each horse is unique and may require different supplements.
Follow the instructions provided by the lab that is going to do the analysis. Be sure to take samples from multiple bales of the same cutting. If you want to sample another cutting/type then do a separate analysis. Pull from the middle of the bale. Retest every time you get new hay. The cost is less than $30 per analysis and is worth every penny. This way you are not wasting money on supplements that your horse does not need or not providing what he does.
Balanced feeds are beneficial for the performance horse but all components of a horse's diet need to be factored to see if there is a deficiency or excess. Once you figure this out and adjust accordingly then you will have a happy & healthy horse.
Put Nutrition First!