I grab a handful or two to get an idea of the hay’s texture. To determine the type of grass, seed heads are the most telling, though blade characteristics are also useful. By entering your email, you consent to receive communications from Penn State Extension. If, on the other hand, the occasional stem is brown but the leaves are green and well-anchored to the stem, then the hay is probably still nutritious. Crandell next evaluates the color of the hay. Timothy has bulb-like structures called “corms" and they may resemble the bulbs of onion grass. Timothy corm. Timothy is a beloved favorite of horses and their owners for its palatability and the great hay it produces. For timothy, the early-cut stage would be considered the early head stage. Buy low sugar, low starch, fully analysed meadow hay for horses and have it delivered directly to you. Timothy Hay and Native Mountain Meadow High Altitude Grass Hay Mix Our high altitude grown grass hay is a high-quality mix of premium Horizon variety Timothy hay with some Meadow Foxtail hay and native meadow, high altitude grasses and clovers, which is an excellent blend for pleasure, ranch and rodeo horses and especially for prize race horses. “Fescue blades roll up lengthwise when dried, while orchardgrass blades dry open, so it is very easy to distinguish these two plants. Second, the herbicide has a planting restriction of 10 months for grasses. Horses evolved as a grazing animal, which means that they are meant to nibble on small amounts of food over the course of an entire day, and most of this food should be in the form of roughage, or hay. A profusion of leaves and few stems indicates that the hay was made at the desired maturity and that few leaves came loose during baling. So how do we tell these similar looking plants apart? High quality forage is critical for proper digestive function in horses. Crimson clover is another tall-growing type but tends to be higher in indigestible fiber than red clover. There are many types of hay harvested from grasses including alfalfa, timothy, clover and rye. The presence of mold, unusual growths on leaves, insects, and suspicious plants is noted. Pure legumes are rarely roundbaled, but if faced with tightly wound round bales that cannot be opened, an instrument designed to remove core samples from the inside of hay bales, called a hay probe, can be used. You have 3 options: If the foxtail infestation is minor, you can overseed with desirable cool-season grasses in the late summer (mid-August to mid-September in Pennsylvania) so that by springtime, the new grass can shade out the foxtail seedlings. If the cereal hay is harvested after the grain is removed, it is no longer considered hay but straw. In conclusion, horse owners and hay producers should learn how to tell the difference between foxtail and timothy grasses. Early-maturity hays are softer to the touch than late-maturity ones.” As with legumes, Crandell checks for dust and unusual odor indicative of mold. Timothy grass hay is commonly fed to horses, as well as cattle. At first glance, it looks like the popular timothy grass, but a close inspection can tell you that it's really foxtail. Evaluating hay requires a thorough visual appraisal. “I might shake a couple of handfuls to see how much dust flies off. I feed timothy hay cubes, but a lot of people feed beet pulp. Oat hay is the most common cereal hay fed in the United States, and if harvested at the right time, it is quite palatable to horses. Alfalfa hay, sometimes called lucerne hay, is the most popular legume hay fed to horses in the U.S., while timothy and orchard are popular grass hay choices. While alfalfa is the most well-known legume hay, clover hays are appropriate for horses, even if they are not as popular with horse owners as alfalfa. She then estimates plant maturity. It is known for being rich in nutrients and high forage quality. Photo: North Carolina State University. Color is not the end-all, be-all in determining hay quality, but it can be a clue to how it was made. Now that you can tell the difference between timothy and foxtail, what can you do about the foxtail in your pasture or hayfield? However, there are several different varieties of foxtail, and some seed heads remain upright. Feeding Hay to Horses and Ponies. Bagged Meadow Hay. Each individual seed contains spikes with barbs called “awns," which can lodge in horses' mouths and gums, or even scratch an eye. With hay prices in California being $25 a bale (YIKES!) Photo: Ohio State University. Each individual seed contains spikes with barbs called “awns," which can lodge in horses' mouths and gums, or even scratch an eye. An overall brownish tinge could mean the hay was baled too wet and went through a caramelizing stage. Like most horse owners, Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., has opened hundreds of bales of hay during her lifetime of owning and caring for horses. Foxtail is a summer annual grass, meaning it grows from seed in the spring and dies in the fall. LEARN HOW TO STOP THE INVASIVE SPOTTED LANTERNFLY, Coronavirus: Information and resources for the Extension Community. Specifically, the orchardgrass/red clover mix is especially useful for picky eaters. Entering your postal code will help us provide news or event updates for your area. The most common cool-season grasses in the United States are timothy, orchardgrass, ryegrass, fescue, redtop, reed canary grass, and occasionally bluegrass in the East; and wheatgrass, blue grama, bluestem, and meadow in the Midwest and West. They do get readigrass as a treat and on occasion hay cakes. Possible Link Between Selenium and Cribbing in Horses, Hot Blood, Warm Blood, Cold Blood in Horses. There are three important things to remember with this method: There is one pre-emergent herbicide approved for pasture use in Pennsylvania called Prowl H2O that you apply in the spring, before the foxtail seedlings emerge, that will prevent them from growing. Pull a leaf away from the stem and examine the area where they meet (this is called the collar region). This is not the cheapest option for hay but it works for us. Known as slaframine poisoning, excessive salivation is not life-threatening. During certain times of year, hay may be the only forage available to horses and therefore the selection of well-preserved hay harvested at the appropriate stage of maturity is critical. Oh Goody. The opposite is often true with legumes, and these hays sometimes have an abundance of stems and few leaves. You don't need to feed out quite as much lucerne as you do meadow. Like most grasses and legumes, early-cut timothy hay provides more energy and protein than late-cut hay. Get notified when we have news, courses, or events of interest to you. On a timothy plant, you will see a tall membrane come away from the stem and stand upright. This will only be obvious when the grasses are going to seed and aren't mowed. Left image: Timothy: Tall membrane (ligule) at collar. First, it is relatively expensive and needs to be sprayed twice for maximum effectiveness. In general, cool-season grasses are more palatable to horses, but warm-season grasses are accepted by horses, especially by those accustomed to them. If you keep an eye on these plants, you can tell when the seed heads start developing within the sheath (the boot stage). If you mow between this stage and full seed set, then the plant will not be able to drop seeds for next year, and it won't grow another seed head during this year. Warm-season hays are typically not as attractive as the cool-season types, as they are often more golden in color. It is relatively high in fiber, especially when cut at a later or more mature stage. Timothy must be harvested in the pre- or early-bloom stage to ensure a high nutrient content. As a nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research (KER), she understands the importance of good-quality hay. Probes are used to collect hay samples for chemical analysis and nutrient determination. While the immature foxtail plant has no ill effect on horses, the seed heads are troublesome. Meadow hay. As hay, it would be harvested in the spring and summer so palatability might not be an issue for certain horses. This method has a few drawbacks. This makes it a great choice for good-doers, laminitics and horses in light work seed hay , which is made from immature plants and is packed with protein and energy, so it’s best for performance horses Remember to take soil tests and correct pH or nutrient deficiencies before you seed, and to avoid grazing the pastures for at least 6 months after seeding to allow the new grasses to establish healthy root systems. Horsemen often have to decide if they should purchase the first or second cutting of timothy hay for their horses. “I also look at stem coarseness, as this tells me the stage of maturity of the plants when they were harvested. It usually has a higher amount of protein than other grass hays but has a better balance of nutrients such as calcium and fiber. 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