Thursday, August 16, 2012

Alternative Hays for Horses - Full Article

By Dr. Peter Huntington · May 22, 2012

Common hays fed to horses include various pure grass hays, mixed grass hays, and legume hays such as alfalfa (lucerne) and clover. If these hays are not available, horse owners may have to choose from less traditional hay types. While these other forages are usually suitable for horses, some have associated risks.

Foxtail or German millet can be used for horse forage. If foxtail millet hay is fed to horses, additional calcium supplementation will be required as it is high in oxalates, substances that make it difficult for the horse to absorb the calcium in its diet. Some reports show that horses grazing millet hay may have lameness and joint swelling. Some pearl millet reportedly has an alkaloid buildup that can induce toxicity in cattle. Horses may also react to these alkaloids because they are susceptible to alkaloid toxicity syndromes. All millets can accumulate nitrates, which in grazing or haying millets can reach toxic proportions. Nitrate can be controlled somewhat by reducing the amount of nitrogen per application and increasing the number of applications. German millet can cause oral lesions.

Sorghum grasses include sudangrass, johnsongrass, hybrid forage sorghums, and grain sorghums. Here we consider all classes of forage sudangrasses and associated hybrids the same. In reality, there may be some without toxicity problems...

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