Making Hay Part 5: Hay Varieties and Characteristics

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Making Hay - Part 5

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

  When shown a bale of premium hay and one of poor quality, most horsemen would have little difficulty deciding which bale they would like to take home and feed to their horses.  But since the average bale of hay has one or more defects and because the hay-buyer's budget enters into the picture, choosing hay, in actuality, is often not so easy.  The many factors which should be considered when selecting hay all relate directly to the growing and harvesting of the hay.  Understanding the hay-making process from the ground up can help you make wise decisions when it comes to buying your winter supply of hay.


Hay varieties and when commonly cut

A. Alfalfa: first flower
B. Birdsfoot Trefoil: early bloom
C. Red clover: early to mid bloom
D. Orchardgrass: boot
E. Timothy: boot
F. Brome: early to mid-bloom

Positive Attributes

A.  High quality protein especially for growth and generally a desirable calcium to phosphorus ratio, highly palatable
B.  Does well in poorly drained soils
C.  Does well in poorly drained soils, high quality protein
D.  Early start, high yield, safe feed
E.  Does well in poorly drained soils, safe for idle adult
F.  Drought resistant, high yield

 Potential Problems

A.  Needs well drained soil, will shatter if too dry, can contain too much crude protein for some classes of horses, possibility of blister beetles
B.  Low yield, may have lower palatability
C.  Difficult to put up well, notoriously dusty and possible toxicity from mold
D.  Can get tough and unpalatable after early bloom
E.  Not drought resistant, when only hay fed, not enough energy for working horse
F.  May be unpalatable if too mature and fed alone, low in protein

Nutritional Content  

TDN  % Crude
Fiber %
Protein %
Ca %P %
A.980502817.6 - 2.0.2
C.855442713.6 - 2.0.2

Cherry Hill

Part 1 - Planting

Part 2 - Challenges

Part 3 - Cuttings

Part 4 - Choosing Good Hay

Part 5 - Hay Varieties

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