Ever heard of this horse hay substitution?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by southernsibe, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. southernsibe

    southernsibe Songster

    Jun 15, 2007
    kensington, maryland
    I was talking with some people at the feed store this week, basically griping about finding good hay, and then, if it is decent, the outrageous price of it. One person shared that they were feeding half and half hay and straw, and they sprayed the straw with molasses. Has anyone ever heard of this? I haven't. I know that the hay is not always for nutritive value depending on what else you feed, but I didn't know this was an option.

    Has anyone heard of this or anything like it?

  2. helmstead

    helmstead Songster

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    At one time, I stabled my horses on straw - and when they ran out of hay, they'd nibble on the straw instead.

    I would not, however, intentionally feed it as roughage, especially not with added molasses.

  3. Cuban Longtails

    Cuban Longtails Flock Mistress

    Sep 20, 2007
    Northeast Texas
    I didn't think horses would eat straw regardless of what was on it. No, I had not heard of that method. Is straw even nutritious?
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    You can feed straw as additional roughage to those horses that will eat it. It used to be one of the ways of feeding a foundered horse. However straw will not supply all that much in the way of protein, vitamins or minerals, and requires CAREFUL ration balancing with grain or other concentrates.

    I would not be wild about the added-molasses aspect, personally, although I will admit that if you want straw chop to be eaten by a wider range of horses you may *need* the molasses on it as inducement.

    I guess the bottom line is: yes, horses can eat straw (good quality, obviously, not moldy); yes, some will do so voluntarily (generally those you don't *want* to eat it because you're using the straw as bedding <g>); yes straw has some useful nutritional value, mainly its fiber content; and personally no I would not feed it unless I was *really* hard up for alternatives, if only because I do not want to have to sit down and re-figure out horses' diets from scratch [​IMG]


  5. sweetshoplady

    sweetshoplady Songster

    Feb 4, 2008
    Venice, Florida
    Not me. Nice warm bedding in winter. My Simon had straw in his stall for bedding as did the others in winter at Philadelphia Park. Only experience I've ever had with it.

    Isnt straw the chaff from wheat? Or am I mistaken? We don't even have straw down here for bedding only shavings.
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Here is an excerpt from an Alberta Agriculture info sheet on hay alternatives

    8. Straw
    Straw can be used to replace all of the hay if the diet is properly supplemented with extra protein and minerals: for example, free-choice straw supplemented with 5 to 7 pounds (2.2 to 3.2 kg) of a 16 per cent protein grain mix or 5 to 7 pounds (2.2 to 3.2 kg) of alfalfa. However, straw is best used to replace only a portion of the hay, which still significantly extends your hay supply. Oat straw is softer and tends to be more palatable to horses than wheat or barley straw.

    When feeding straw, always make sure your horse has an adequate source of water available to reduce the risk of impaction colic. In addition, give the horse's digestive system time to adjust to the fibrous straw by gradually increasing the amount of straw in the diet over two weeks. Straw should not be fed to weanlings or yearlings because they do not have the digestive capacity or ability to utilize straw as well as mature, adult horses.

    You can do it if you have to, you just have to know what you're doing in designing the total diet.

  7. skeeter

    skeeter Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    Parma Idaho
    Quote:straw can be of many different types that is grass harvested for the seeds (oats,wheat,barley,several lawn grasses)
    we raise alot of grass seed here and the bent grass and fine fescue straw is pretty good feed for cattle but sometimes you need to put molasses on it to make it more palitable
    I cant imagine feeding oat or wheat straw to anything
  8. GwenFarms

    GwenFarms Songster

    Feb 26, 2008
    There is nowhere near enough nutrition in straw. Horses will not do well on it. Hay is very hard to find here in SC too, but we're managing okay on our farm. Call every grower you can think of. Hang around the feed store asking everyone who comes in to buy horse feed. Eventually you'll find some hay you can afford.

    We have generally been having to pay $65 a 1000 lb. round bale for mediocre hay here. Thats from the growers, dealers, such as feed stores, are selling it for much more. The past month I've bought two bales for $50 and two from another grower for $45, just by calling every lead, I come across. I walk upto total strangers if they even look like they own horses, or cows and ask them where they're buying hay.
  9. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    The thing to remember for the future-Hay is cheaper right off the field! The cheapest time of the year to buy hay is when it is being put up. The closer you get to spring the shorter the hay supply and the more it is going to cost. Plus the better quality hay tends to be gone.

    Good luck finding hay!
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:The straw is not for 'nutrition' as it's generally meant. Protein, vitamin, mineral and sufficient-calorie sources have to be provided by other stuff, generally grain and other concentrates.

    The point of feeding straw when times are tough is that you can always get grain etc BUT horses NEED roughage to keep their digestive systems working right (and their brains happy). A grain based diet may be adequate in other ways but it does not come close to providing enough chewable fiber. That is where the straw comes in -- for the required bulk. It is not intended to provide much of anything else.


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