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Hay, what to plant for horses to reduce laminitis

 
Giselle Burningham
Posts: 89
Location: Australia, Now zone 10a, costal, sandy, windy and temperate.
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Hi everyone I've been looking at what to plant as seeds to regenerate an old Hayfield to provide a source of income on my smallholding. We have a lot of horses in our area.  Apparently you do not feed horses the same as cows!!! Much to my surprise I found this article,     https://www.nativeseeds.com.au/uses/horse-cattle-sheep-pasture/

Basically what it says is that horses are suffering from something called laminitis,  which in Laymans terms is a form of diabetes. The horses are getting too many carbs. Just as I was about to spend a fortune on re seeding the pastures with clover, rye, etc etc.  I rang this company to find out something about native grasses. It appears that these grasses are extremely good for horses as they are low in sugar and  carbohydrates moreover quite lucrative. About $10 a small bale which is double of normal prices in our area. I was advised to go and check exactly what I was growing in my paddocks. It appears I'm very lucky that no one has ever oversown my fields with introduced seeds.  So I do not have to spend any money on grains!  Moreover I need to advertise my hay as a quality product to help prevent or reduce laminitis in horses. I need to have the hay assessed for a complete nutritional break down each year but apparently that's normal. Costs about $60. Promoting the science and the health for horses is critical when selling.

It's been suggested that I advertise it on Facebook etc before I even harvest ( wait until you have the pervious years nutritional data) as people like to pre-book orders as it is hard to find. I've worked out that on 25 acres I should be making about $7 to 8000 Australian on ONE cutting a year.  There is a difference on how much sugar is in the grass when you cut. (Sugar is bad for horses even though they love it) The first cutting is usually the lowest. I prefer to use Permaculture methods and return the other cuttings to the ground to improve the soil each year.  I'm going to do more for research on this and I will give you my updates as I find out more so this could take some time so bear with me. I need to find out if I need to improve the soil by adding lime or not but to do that I need to do some further testing. I contacted 'native seeds' in Australia and they have been extremely helpful. I also found many other companies in the USA that are following similar lines.  It seems the big corporations had brainwashed me in thinking that hay had to be planned and sowed for a quality product... not so! the good stuff is the traditional meadow grass!!! who would have guessed!

I have also found that if you stack hay with salt in between, the horses also adore this.

So it seems I found a means of income that is not to physically demanding, no animals to worry about..This is something my husband wants to do and if he gets too old to do it we can sub contract somebody else to come in and cut it.




 
C. Hunter
Posts: 111
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You're correct in that horse hay should generally be lower in carbohydrates (starches and sugars), with moderate protein, and that grass hay is preferred over legume hay (clover, alfalfa, etc). However, it's not the only culprit in laminitis (it can play a role, but it's not the only thing). It's also better for draft-type horses and ponies (and QHs) who may be prone to other metabolic disorders like EPSM (https://www.thehorseshoof.com/epsm.html). That said, generally, there's not much probably not much benefit of a native grass vs a commercially developed one from a marketing perspective. Most horse people want to buy the type of grass hay they are familiar with. I would NOT count on being able to get a premium for a non-typical type of hay, especially without a few years of feeding it yourself. (I think you'll have no trouble selling it, but maybe not at the highest price point.)

(I also think that site very strongly overstates the case for the seeds they are selling, frankly.) Also, if this has previously BEEN a hayfield, there probably is already introduced stuff in that field- and that's fine! Coastal, which is the main hay grass in my area, is absolutely NOT native to the area, and horses do great on it. (Family farm (conventional) has about 400 acres in hayfield and grows a mix of coastal, rye, and a commercial mix that I can't remember the name of.)

I'd also be very leary of adding salt or anything to the bales. Yes, horses like it, but it'd be irritating from a horse-diet-creating POV to try and figure out how much salt was in there and how that needed to be factor into nutrition since it could vary bale to bale- you wouldn't be able to do the studies like a large feed company would.

There is ALWAYS a market for good grass hay, though. And it's relatively easy to contract out cutting and baling, if you have a decent sized field. The only downside is that you're totally at the mercy of the weather- and a year that gives you great crops will probably give everyone else a good crop too, driving the price down. And even if the weather is good, sometimes you just get unlucky- you end up with dusty hay, or you get rain while it's in the field, and despite the best growing conditions you end up with stuff that's barely fit for cows.
 
Giselle Burningham
Posts: 89
Location: Australia, Now zone 10a, costal, sandy, windy and temperate.
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Thank you that was a great response and very helpful. Hay is always in short supply in our area especially for horses. So I have a great catchment area. The pricing I gave is what is being charged locally .. which is high. It's not the money rather if I have a product that is slightly different then I would Market it as such.  I checked around and the carbs mix in the hay is an issue.  I have friends who spend a fortune on finding good quality hay. And they want the nutritional reports  I thought our old hay paddock was poor quality hay.. it appears that I was wrong. The local coop really pushes re sowing with commercial hay grains which is extremely expensive. In fairness to the other company, they stated that I probably did not need their seeds. I suppose what was trying to say to others is to not assume that just your old paddock hay is rubbish, it could be worthwhile.  And to check out what is currently being said about horse health. Thanks. Giselle
 
Giselle Burningham
Posts: 89
Location: Australia, Now zone 10a, costal, sandy, windy and temperate.
2
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https://permies.com/t/54448/Safe-sources-hay

This has great info too..
 
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