Summer Weather Leads to Hay Shortage
A shortage of hay is a real concern for horse owners this winter. Make plans now to provide for your horses over the coming months. There are a variety of feeds that can replace hay nutritionally, but nutrition is one part of the equation. The long stemmed fiber in hay satisfies your horses desire to chew and the digestion of hay helps keep him warm.
I have some hay, but not enough.
If you have some hay, but are concerned that you do not have enough to make it through the winter, try to conserve as much as possible. Cut back on the amount of hay you are feeding, and add a replacement for the missing calories. You can add beet pulp, hay or alfalfa cubes, or switch your horse to a complete concentrate. By feeding in this way, your horse will still get the benefits of the long stemmed fiber, and you will have enough hay to make it through the winter.
I have no hay, and no idea where I will find some.
If you do not have any hay, you really need to be creative. While you can easily provide for your horse’s nutritional and digestive needs with complete feed, beet pulp, and hay cubes, without the long stemmed fiber, which takes time to eat, and fills up the stomach, your horse may start chewing on the stall door, become restless between meals, or develop other behaviour issues.
There are several ways that you can deal with these potential pitfalls. The first is to lower your hay standards. Try to find some hay, any hay at all. It may be last seasons, stemmy, or otherwise unappetizing. As long as the hay is free from mold and dust, it will provide adequate filler to meet your horse’s need to chew. Make sure that you are providing enough nutrients through his concentrates to make up for this less than stellar hay.