Effective Horse Management- First in the Horse Nutrition Series Hay Analysis: Its Importance and Interpretation


Having your hay analyzed is a great idea. It is the only way to determine the actual nutrient content of your hay. It is important to know this so that you can be sure your horse is consuming an adequate diet. You may or may not need to feed grain depending on the quality of your hay. The better the quality of the hay you feed, the less grain you will need to feed. This can be a significant savings. Two types of analyses can be performed. This is a visual and chemical analysis. If you have already purchased hay, then you have probably performed a visual analysis. Chemical analysis is when the hay is sampled and the nutrient content of the hay is determined by a laboratory. In visual analysis, there are several factors that should be considered. These include: • Maturity of hay – The more mature, or older, a hay is, the more fiber it contains, and the more stemmy or unpalatable it will become Table 1. Example of stages of maturity of alfalfa hay (NRC 1989) Stage of maturity Fiber content Characteristic

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