Sunday, August 19, 2012

Practical hay testing: Roll in ze hay

Would you like a roll in ze hay?
Remember Terri Garr's line, "Roll in ze hay?"
I went to a nutrition seminar last night with Bob. Dr. Don Kapper, head nutritionist at Progressive Nutrition, spoke about some recent advances in equine nutrition. There was lots of good stuff -- things I had not heard -- but he offered good advice on assessing the quality of hay.

Hay tip
When hay is young it is the most digestible. As hay matures, the plant prepares for to support the blossom head by strengthening the stem and produces lignin, an undigestible fibrous material. It does the horse no good and makes for stemmy hay. After showing how hay is analyzed in the lab, he offered an alternative method of assessing your horse's hay:

"Open a bale, spread it around. Then take off your clothes and roll in it naked."

Does it feel good or bad? If you're not sure, Dr. Kapper says, smiling:

"A second opinion is helpful."

Oh, and a blossom head of 1-2 inches is okay in a bale. Six to eight inches, not what you want to see...


  1. That's interesting. Was there any discussion about whether the older hay is better for fat ponies and horses prone to laminitis?

  2. My vet told me this winter that my hardkeeper would benefit from softer hay (we had very coarse hay at the time). I had never heard hay described that way before, but now I understand that it means younger and leafier. Must have been an interesting seminar.


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