Know your forage: which is the perfect type for your horse?

Being aware of the benefits and shortfalls of different forages will help you make an informed decision when it comes to selecting the right products for your horse, writes Georgia Guerin. But you shouldn’t rule out forage replacements either...

Here is a breakdown of 10 different types of forage on the market, but for more information on forage replacements, be sure to pick up the latest issue of Horse & Hound magazine, out today (18 October).

1. Hay is harvested either from permanent pasture meadow grasses or specially sown seed leys. Once cut, it’s left to air-dry in the field.

2. Haylage is conserved cut grass, baled with a higher water content than hay, and then wrapped. It tends to be higher in overall energy and less dusty.

3. Straw is particularly useful as a partial replacement (up to 30%) when feeding
good-doers or overweight horses. Oat and barley straw are most common, but hygienic quality is more important than type.

4. Chopped dried grass is harvested earlier than hay and dried artificially. It’s often
higher in protein and energy, making it a good option for poor-doers and veterans.

5. Grass nuts are harvested in a similar way and have similar qualities to chopped dried grass, but are pelleted.

6. Sugar beet is a palatable way to add fibre to the diet, but it can’t be used as a complete replacement.

7. Short-chopped fibres contain chopped straw, grass and alfalfa, and often extra vitamins and minerals.

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8. Soakable products are often high-fibre and low in sugar and starch, so can be used as a partial replacement and are ideal for horses with dental problems.

9. High-fibre cubes are a versatile and palatable way of adding fibre as a complete compound feed, partial replacer or treats in a snack ball.

10. Hydroponic sprouting barley fodder is grown indoors in just seven days. The process was originally invented for use in hot countries, but it’s now being used in the UK to combat periods of drought. Could this be the future of forage?

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