Fact or fiction: Don’t feed new hay before Christmas

  • Myth: “Don’t feed new hay before Christmas”

    Truth: Throw this one in the rubbish bin

    Registered nutritionist Teresa Hollands says: “This myth originated because people thought new hay was high in sugar and it might destabilise the digestive system. But as long as the hay has been dried properly, it is a stable product, and there is no need to worry.

    “That said, as with any new feed, it should be introduced gradually, overlapping it with the old supply over seven to 10 days. If a horse has come straight off grass, it is even more important to introduce hay gradually.”

    Ruth Bishop, another registered nutritionist, adds: “Old hay will obviously have different nutritional values to new hay, which typically has higher sugar and soluble protein contents. New hay can be up to 10% sugar, while old hay will typically contain about 2% sugar.

    “This should not generally present a problem when new hay is fed in the autumn, provided it is introduced gradually. If introduced rapidly, however, new hay might cause digestive upset in susceptible horses.”

  • This formed part of a feature in Horse & Hound’s feeding special (13 October, ’05)

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