Whether you’re looking for the best hay for your horse or buying new feed, it’s important to know which hay has the most protein.

According to David Woods Hay Service, grass hays are higher in protein than legume hays, but the nutrient content will depend on the cut and when it was harvested. Choose an earlier cut, more nutritious hay for hard keepers or horses in heavy exercise.

Grass Hay

Hay is a dry, leafy plant that can be used for feeding livestock or as bedding. It can be made from a wide variety of plants, including grasses or legumes. It is typically harvested and dried, then stacked and baled for storage. The process of making hay has varied throughout history. Modern-day farmers use machinery to cut, rake and bale their hay. More primitive methods still exist on smaller lots or farms without access to machines.

The type of hay you feed depends on the animals you want to feed and your climate. Some types of hay have a higher protein content than others. Grass hay, such as timothy, ryegrass, fescue, and brome grass, is the most commonly grown.

Grass hay can be high or low in protein, depending on the plant species and maturity at harvest. Generally, early-cut grass hays have lower protein levels than later-cut grass hays.

This is because as plants mature, they increase their structural carbohydrate content, which makes it harder for the horse’s body to absorb the nutrient. This is particularly true of protein, which requires microbial fermentation in the hindgut to make it available to the horse’s cells.

Buying first-cut or second-cut hay is important if you are looking for high-protein hay. You should also check its maturity at harvest, as hay harvested earlier may have less protein than hay cut later in the growing season.

You should look for hay with low non-structural carbohydrates, which is a good sign of a high level of digestible fiber. A hay’s nutrient quality is often measured with a test called relative forage quality, or RFQ. This new, inexpensive test has been developed to better determine nutrient quality when testing forages that contain both grass and legumes.

Choosing the right forage can help to prevent digestive problems and other health concerns such as gastric ulcers and hindgut acidosis. In addition, it can also help your horse to perform at its best. For example, high-protein hay with adequate calcium and vitamin A can help to protect against bone fractures and brittle bones. Moreover, high-protein hay can help strengthen muscles and joints, especially in the hocks and heels of your horse.

Legume Hay

You should choose legume hay if you want to give your horse the most protein in his hay. Legumes are plants that have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in the roots, called rhizobia. These bacteria convert nitrogen in the air and the soil into ammonia and ammonium, which the legume can use to make protein.

Legume hays are generally more nutritious than grass hays and have a higher concentration of protein, calcium, and energy (calories). The high concentration of protein makes them an excellent choice for performance horses that require high levels of calories and energy in their diet.

A good quality legume hay can be highly palatable to a horse, and they will often go for it and stay grazing for longer than if they were on lower-protein grass hay. However, overfeeding legume hays can lead to poor gut health in horses.

Alfalfa hay is a common legume hay and an excellent protein, energy, and mineral source. It is an important staple of the equine diet.

Red clover is another palatable legume hay high in protein and calcium. It is an important hay for growing foals, pregnant mares, and horses in heavy work.

Orchardgrass is a cool-season legume hay common in the Midwest and Eastern United States. It grows well in shaded areas and moderately dry conditions. It is an excellent protein-rich legume hay and can be used as a pasture substitute for alfalfa.

Bermudagrass is another palatable legume hay and can be used as supplemental forage in mixed pastures. It is also a good source of vitamins A and B.

If you are trying to decide which hay is better for your horse, consider your horse’s age and stage of development, activity level, workload, and metabolism. When making these decisions, it is best to consult your veterinarian or equine nutritionist.

Whether you prefer to feed grass hay or legume hay, balancing the protein content of the two is very important. Combining these two hays will give your horse all the nutrients they need for optimal health and performance.

Grain Hay

Grain hay is made from various cereal grains (like wheat, barley, and oats). These grains are cut at an early maturity before seed heads cover them. This helps to ensure that the grain hay contains the highest level of digestible fiber, protein, and most nutrients in grass hay.

The amount of protein varies by type of hay, but high-quality hay will have about 75% or more crude protein, and the rest is metabolizable energy. This means the horse will have enough protein to meet their daily dietary needs.

If you want to add a higher protein level to your horse’s diet, talk to a Poulin Grain Feed Specialist about the best hay for your specific animal. They can help you choose hay with the highest amount of protein and balance your ration with supplements.

You can also try pelleted hay, a form of feed that has been processed through a die to break down the ingredients. These pellets are a good option for horses that are picky eaters or those that need more palatable hay.

Most hay loses its nutritional value during the drying and storage process. This is especially true for vitamin A. It can be lost about 50% of the time during curing.

Aside from the loss of vitamin A, hay can also lose protein and minerals during this time. This is why it is so important to choose hay that is as close to its freshest as possible when purchasing.

Another benefit of hay is that it has more nitrogen than grain. For example, a 40-bushel wheat crop removes 40 lbs. of N per acre in the grain, but this same crop would yield about 5190 lbs. of hay if cut at the dough stage.

This is a great advantage over the nutrient replacement cost of harvesting grain. This is especially important if you have a horse susceptible to developing PSSM or Cushing’s disease.

Mixed Hay

Some hays have a higher protein level than others, which can be important for some livestock animals. This is especially true for horses since they need a lot of protein in their diet to stay strong and healthy.

Fortunately, many different kinds of hay can provide your horse with the proper amount of protein. These include alfalfa, timothy, oat, and other varieties of grasses. Each type of hay has its own unique nutrients and nutrient content, so it’s essential to know which one is right for your horse’s needs.

Alfalfa, Timothy, and oat hays have high protein levels and other nutrients, such as calcium and phosphorus. However, they are also lower in fiber than other types of hays.

Timothy hay is also high in protein and has an excellent balance of nutrients, making it a favorite for equestrians and small animals like rabbits. It is easy to digest and provides enough protein to meet your animal’s nutritional requirements.

Other grasses that can be used to make hay for your horse include smooth bromegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. Both hays have a high relative feed value (RFV) and are easily digestible.

Aside from high protein content, bromegrass is also an excellent iron, zinc, and other minerals source. This makes it ideal for older horses or those with impacted bowels.

Another popular hay is coastal grass hay, Bermuda grass that grows well in the southern US. It can be harvested in a shorter form or a longer, more fibrous version. It is often paired with legumes and other types of hay to create a mixed field.

There are many ways to determine if a particular hay is good for your horse, but one of the best ways is to get it tested by a veterinarian or equine nutritionist. This will ensure that you are getting the best quality hay for your horse’s nutritional needs. It will also allow you to determine what hay is right for your horse’s body weight, activity level, and age.