Playing the Hay Odds
If hay analysis isn’t an option, you might have to play the odds. Arm yourself with solid information to win the end game.
I’m standing in a barn with my client and her obese horse. I explain why it’s important that she find hay with a low-carbohydrate content to minimize the risks of a founder episode, while still providing adequate nutrients.
“Look carefully at the hay analysis,” I tell her. “You want to find something with an NSC (non-structural carbohydrate) value of less than 10 percent, and a protein level of at least 10 percent. If the protein level is low, you can make that up with a supplement.”
But then she leads me to the hay barn, where she shows me her options—green, leafy alfalfa; a brown, stemmy-looking orchard grass; and a greener timothy with obvious seed heads.
“These are my only choices,” my client tells me. “The barn owner won’t let us bring in outside hay. And she orders hay monthly from a local supplier, so by the time I get a hay analysis done, we’ll probably have a different batch.”
Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. While hay analysis might give you all of the information you need to choose the perfect hay for