Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Do You Know What's In Your Hay?"

Howdy Folks,

Be sure to test your hay ... In many cases the sugar and non-structured carbs are higher than we think ... Your County Extension Officer will happily test it for you. Best horse hay will be no higher than 10%  non-structured carbs, or sugar.

Kessy became Insulin Resistant (IR) after her bout with Lyme Disease and I noticed the "fat patches" building even though I was feeding "Teff Hay" which by all studies done at universities suggested Teff was a low sugar hay ... Penn State even suggested it for IR and obese horses ... Well Kessy continued to build fatty splotches and a cresty neck, even though she gets no grain and no grass ... So I finally tested my hay ... To everyone's surprise it came back 15% non-structured carbs and sugar, and 17% protein! ... I have been soaking her hay for 2 months now, which will remove about 20% of the sugar, but removes vitamins & minerals too ... We have seen the fat patches reduced a bit in just this short period of time ... I did begin to exercise her a little more too, asking for a bit more speed on our rides.

Kessy munching hay during Coffee Clutch
It seems today we are seeing way too many IR horses. Are there truly more, or are we just becoming more aware of what to look for? That's a good question, but whatever the answer, we need to focus on how we might prevent and/or manage our horses. Read my blog post about Lyme Disease and IR here -

Many of the forages were researched and developed for cows with calves at their sides. Most cool season grasses found in horse pastures and hayfields may be high in sugar. Recently, even the old standby Orchard grass is found often to be high in sugar. Timothy seems to be medium in its sugar content, but is hard to find in many areas. Alfalfa is not a good answer because it because it tends to be higher in digestible energies, calories and protein than grasses. More calories can create weight gain, and too much protein is not great for horses.

What can we do? Of course testing is very important, know your hay's sugar content. Mowing hay early in the morning can help; sugar tends to be less then. Limit pasture. Overweight horses munching all day on pasture is not a good thing. Laminitis does not usually occur "overnight" rather it's the result of cumulative build ups. If you find you've purchased a good supply of hay, then test and you discover high sugar, as I did, you have the choice of soaking for 20 or so minutes before feeding. Or selling it and replacing it, which sometimes is easier said than done, too.

Horses are tough and carry on even if things are not as they should be and we go merrily along not realizing we are setting them up for problems. For peace of mind, "Don't Guess, Test."

For more advice on IR horses and Homeopathic health please contact –

Jessica Lynn at Earth Song Ranch here – http://www.earthsongranch.com/viewContent.asp?idpage=4

Inez Domoyer of Unicorn Dreams Wholistic Touch here - https://www.facebook.com/UnicornDreamsWholisticTouch 

AND to really learn about hay, pasture, grasses and horses visit Kathryn Watts at her Website Safer Grass- http://www.safergrass.org/articles.html

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry


  1. Not all county extensions will not test hay for you and if they do the test will not include all of the imformation you need. "NSC (Non structured carbohydrates) does not = simple sugars. Starch is also important. Best to send a sample to Equi-analytical http://www.equi-analytical.com/default.htm and ask for test #603 which also includes important information such as digestible energy (calories), crude protein, major and trace minerals. Managing an IR horse goes beyond simply limiting sugars. You are absolutely correct that forages grown for grazing and hay have been genetically selected for fattening cattle, not what is necessarily a healthy diet for horses. Testing hay before you buy (or better yet, buy tested hay from a reputable grower) is the best way to go.

    1. So true Sally, in everything you have said here! And THANK YOU for commenting! Thank you too for being a Coffee Clutcher! You have given very useful information here!