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.

Horse & Rider - - Conformation Clinic - BY BARB CRABBE, DVM

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

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