Hay Replacement Options for Horses
With hay in short supply across Texas, there are options for horse owners. Complete feeds contain adequate roughage for horses and can replace hay entirely or can help extend the hay that you are able to find. Many horse owners are not comfortable reducing or taking hay out of a horse’s diet, but complete feeds are truly a safe alternative to hay.
The products available in North Texas are:
- Purina® Omolene 400 – this product contains beet pulp as one of the roughage sources. It is a sweet feed and is designed to be fed to performance horses
- Purina® Horse Chow – this is a pelleted complete feed that has been available for over 40 years with much success.
- Purina® Equine Family – there are three products in this family: Equine Junior, Equine Adult and Equine Senior. Equine Adult is an option for mature horses that are not ridden frequently. Equine Junior is a complete feed for weanlings to 2 years old and Equine Senior is for older horses (approximately 16 years and older). These are premium, pelleted products.
- Purina® Horseman’s Edge Hay Stretcher – this is a pelleted feed that is available in Texas. Horseman’s Edge is Purina’s mid-line of products that provide very good nutrition at a more economical price.
All the products above have a full mineral and vitamin package so supplements should not be needed. White salt should be kept out for horses, particularly in the summer.
To stretch your hay supply out to last longer, replace 50% of the hay with an equal amount of the appropriate complete feed. If horses are eating grain, reduce the amount by ½-1 pound per day. When replacing the entire hay portion of the diet while feeding grain, feed the same amount of the complete feed you were feeding of hay and reduce the amount of grain by 2-3 pounds. To use the complete feed as the entire ration, simply follow the directions on the back of the bag. Horses should continue to be evaluated on an individual basis and minor adjustments can be made to these recommendations based on the body condition of the horse. Reducing the amount or eliminating hay from the diet represents a major diet change and should be made gradually over several days. Since horses will eat a complete feed faster than long-stemmed hay, it is beneficial to divide the total ration into 3-4 meals per day to spread out feeding times.
A fish scale is one of the easiest ways to determine how much hay you are currently feeding. You can wrap baling twine or baling wire around the flakes of hay and hang it from the scale.
Talk to us at Mansfield Feed to determine which complete feed is the right one for you and your horses.