Agri Vehicles Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Hay  (Read 2059 times)


  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
« on: December 17, 2012, 10:55:44 am »
Ok, I'm going to ask a potentially stupid question, so forgive me :)

I'm looking for a new hay supplier, and it occurred to me that I don't know what the difference is between the sorts of hay available, and which sort is best for my sheep.  So ... Hay 101 for Sheep Keepers - can anyone tell me what I should be looking for please?  And what's the difference between hay for horses and hay for sheep.


  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Hay
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2012, 12:09:08 pm »
Not much difference between the ideal for horse and sheep hay - both ideally want meadow hay (natural occurring mix of grass and other plants like clover, trefoil etc), but the sheep can cope with it being cut earlier and being richer whereas horses ideally want late cut with lots of timothy grass in it if possible (timothy grasss looks like loo brush/bottle brush - fuzzy head all around the stem).
Sheep can cope with seed hay (nearly all ryegrass uniform looking) which is much richer (sugars and protein) , harvested earlier, but it would be too rich for horses.
But the sheep will be very grateful (and healthier due to the wider range of nutrients) if they got good meadow hay instead (NB meadow hay is normally pale greenish even when bone dry unless exposed to the sun for weeks, as the non grass plants like clover retain the green colour. Do be careful theres no ragwort in it.


  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: Hay
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2012, 01:38:15 pm »
I give my sheep and horses whatever I get hold of, but they only have it in winter.  I have my own haylage so they usually end up with that, haylage is richer than dry hay though as it's baled earlier so that there is more moisture and nutrients still in the grass.  Both my horses and sheep are fine on it.

Silage = grass that is cut and baled immediately, usually very wet and cut early in the year.  Not very suitable for horses or sheep due to the risk of botulism and rich content.

Haylage = grass that has been cut and left to dry for a few days, ideally turned before baling and wrapping but sometimes it's not.  Usually cut later in the year than silage, and the nutritional content depends upon the type of grass. Some haylage can be borderline silage if the weather hasn't allowed it to dry.  The baling stops the fermenting process but once a bale is opened then the fermenting starts again and a bale of haylage will have to be used within a period of time to stop it becoming mouldy.  Okay for horses and sheep but not ideal for native ponies and good doers!

Hay = cut grass that has been turned several times to totally dry out (sometimes very hard to predict when this can be as it all depends on the weather!).  Ideally needs a dry spell up to a week before baling.  Nutrients vary depending on type of grass and when baled (the later it's baled the less nutrients are in it).

Hay can vary tremendously in quality but generally it's easy to spot good quality stuff, it will be a bit green and smell sweet whereas bad quality will be yellow, dry and dusty and not smell nice.  Hay can harbour a lot of mould spores too,  much more than haylage, unless the haylage has gone off!
1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep


  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Hay
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2012, 01:40:10 pm »
I get given a lot of bales off horsey suppliers that they cant (be bothered) to sell, either because it is last summers or because there is some kind of spoilage which means I will have to yank the end off a bale, say.

Worth asking about.


  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Hay
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2012, 12:15:09 pm »
Thanks all :).


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