Posted: 14th August 2013 | Back to news feed

Did you know that 70 to 100% of your horse’s diet should be provided by forage?

 It stands to reason then, that your choice of forage should be the most important feed purchase you make and therefore of the best possible hygienic and nutritional quality possible.

 Horses have evolved to utilise a high fibre diet, using bacterial fermentation in a highly developed large intestine. Low levels of fibre, or poor quality fibre in the diet put horses at serious risk of problems such as colic and gastric ulcers.  Leaving horses for long periods of time with nothing to eat can also lead to serious digestive and metabolic disturbances.

 Decent forage is dependent upon the quality of the grass harvested and its dry matter at the time of baling, as weather conditions whilst it is being made will significantly affect the end quality.

 Most samples of hay contain unacceptably high levels of dust, mould and dust mites, together with their faeces! These can cause serious problems for your horse’s respiratory health. If left un-managed, dust exposure can often result in an allergic reaction which may lead to permanent respiratory problems such as RAO (Recurrent Airway Obstruction). 

Freedom from dust and mould spores is probably more important than the nutritional value of forage.  Hay is never 100% dust free and even soaking hay only removes some of the dust spores. It can sometimes minimise the levels of dust and mould, however it rarely eliminates all spores. In addition the nutrient value of soaked hay will be greatly reduced and once the hay begins to dry the spores will become airborne again.

 Unlike hay, haylage is usually dust-free, but be sure to choose a brand which clearly states that it is dust-free to be totally certain. Ideally, rather than big-bale haylage, choose a bagged forage such a HorseHage, so that you know exactly what you’re feeding. HorseHage is bagged straight from the field to ensure there is no risk of mould or myco-toxins contained in the bag. 

Good forage at a reasonable price is a cost effective option.  Poor hay at any price is a false economy. Top quality bagged forage from a well-established, reliable producer like HorseHage will have a high nutritional value as well as a full nutritional analysis and quality guarantee. It can be more expensive than hay, but the quality is consistent and there is no waste, plus the nutritional content is far better quality than hay. This means that you can often reduce the level of concentrates you feed. This can help reduce your overall feed bill!

 In addition, HorseHage produces four different varieties and has lower sugar levels (around 5%) than hay (around 10%). Both the High Fibre and Timothy varieties are safe to feed to laminitics, so there is an option to suit all types of horses and ponies.

 For more information on forage and advice on feeding your horse, please call the HorseHage Helpline on: 01803 527257 or visit

The Equestrian Index newsfeed is compiled from articles submitted by advertising members and expresses the opinions of those members. Watsons Directories Ltd shall not be held liable for any inaccuracies or mis-statements therein.

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