No two horse forages are the same. Horse owners and trainers who are aware of the merits and shortcomings of the different types of forage on the market are empowered to make a truly informed decision in full confidence. Those lacking such information will struggle to select the ideal product for their horse(s). This is not to say horse owners and trainers should completely rule out forage replacements as some such products have their own unique merits. Richard Schibell of Richard Schibell Racing has experimented with every forage combination on the market to keep his horses strong and healthy. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of horse forage on the market as of early 2019.
Straw serves as an effective partial replacement when providing sustenance to horses over their targeted weight as well as those that qualify as good-doers. Straw can replace upwards of 30 percent of traditional feed. The barley and oat varieties of straw are fairly common. However, hygienic quality matters much more than straw type.
Hay is harvested through specialized sown leys or pasture meadow grass. This grass is permanent. As soon as hay is cut, it is left to air dry out in the field.
Chopped and Dried Grass
Grass can be harvested sooner than hay. Grass is often dried in an artificial manner. This forage is sometimes favored as it is comparably high in protein, providing horses with much-needed energy. Veteran horses and poor-doers appreciate chopped and dried grass that much more than other horses.
Haylage is best described as cut grass that is conserved. Haylage is baled with a comparably high water content and subsequently wrapped. Compared to hay, haylage provides more energy and proves less dusty.
Forage in cube form is now available. High-fiber cubes are highly versatile and quite tasty for horses. These cubes inject essential fiber in the form of compound feed, snack balls or partial replacers.
Sugar beets really are a delicious fiber-rich treat for horses. However, sugar beets alone do not qualify as a full forage replacement.
Hydroponic Sprouting Barley
This unique fodder is grow indoors across the span of a single week. The growing process originated in nations with comparably warm temperatures yet it is now used across the world, especially in the midst of droughts. It is quite possible hydroponics represent the future of forage.
Grass nuts are harvested similar to dried grass. Grass nuts really do have some of the same qualities as dried and chopped grass. The main difference between the two is grass nuts are pelleted.