Hay is the traditional “feed everything” answer to what to give your horse when he’s stabled over winter. Hay is also commonly used as a forage replacer for horses and ponies prone to or suffering from laminitis, it is easy to use can be fed ad-lib and most horses eat it happily. However it’s not always the case that hay is right for you or your horse.
Did you know the studies recently published by Dengie feeds shows that there are more sugars in hay than in Haylage?? This means that haylage would be more suited to laminitic horses and ponies as it is the sugars reaching the hind gut which are one cause of laminitis in horses.
This difference in sugar content is due to the haylage being fermented, this is a natural process which involves naturally occurring bacteria turning the sugars in the grass into acid and so preserving the grass. This therefore uses up some of the sugars.
Haylage has another advantage over hay, it is dust free. Due to the higher moisture content in haylage compared to hay any dust particles on the grass become so full of moisture they cannot become airborne and it is only when they are airborne that they will be able to cause respiratory problems for both horses and their owners! Many of us regularly come out of the feed room sneezing after filling nets with what looks like perfectly good hay. Just think what this is then doing to your horse who has his nose in the hay to eat it, no wonder so many get coughs and sniffles over winter.
Haylage has more of the nutrients found in the growing grass available to the horse than hay, which means that you can often cut down on your hard feed ration, not only does this save you money but it is also the more natural way to feed; horses evolved to eat a high fibre low protein and sugar diet, little and often rather than having the bulk of their nutrients in two large meals a day with not much in between.
Feeding in a natural way will help to avoid stereotypical behaviours which develop through stress and also gastric problems such as ulcers which can be a result of not enough fibre in the horses diet allowing the stomach to become too acidic and so cause problems.
So when you are looking around your feed store this winter just think about the most natural way to feed your horse, start with their forage – could Silvermoor Recreation Haylage make up the main energy supply for your horse? If your horse is only in light to medium work then the answer is probably yes! (to put it in perspective my 15.3hh Mare is hunted once a week on Saturday and schooled or jumped on the Sunday and only gets Silvermoor Recreation and a feed balancer with chaff to make sure she chews, twice a day! And she is still a bit chubby, bless her) this way of feeding is also very useful if your horse tends to be a bit excitable in the winter with lots of time inside and not enough time to ride.
We are still looking for more stockists for Silvermoor Haylage so if your local supplier does not stock us, why not?!