Questions & Answers
It is impossible for us to deal with every possible question here, but there are some common questions and statements which arise fairly regularly:
How much is in a bale of HorseHage?
The equivalent of a bale of hay – it will provide the forage requirements of an average 500kg horse for 3 days.
Does HorseHage have a higher feed value than hay?
Yes, as it retains 90% of the value of fresh grass, and has consistent feed values, whereas hay loses much of its value in the drying process and is much more variable. HorseHage is also more digestible.
Does that mean you feed less HorseHage than hay?
No. Generally speaking you should feed the same quantity of HorseHage as a minimum by weight as you would hay, and as part of a balanced diet.
The total diet for all horses and ponies should be based on forage, and typical recommendations for suitable amounts of forage (on a dry matter basis) range from 1.5% of bodyweight for very good doers and those on a weight-loss diet, to 3% for horses in very hard work or large breeds or brood mares during peak lactation. These quantities will ensure that the horse or pony receives adequate fibre to keep his digestive system working correctly, as well as enough nutrients to maintain condition, health and performance – and enough chewing time to keep him occupied!
Many horse and ponies in light/medium work, receiving a forage-based diet, require only a small amount of concentrate feed (nuts, mixes, chaffs and supplements) to top up energy needs and meet mineral and vitamin requirements.
Horses and ponies in harder work may require more energy and other nutrients from concentrate feed, but the forage fraction of the diet should never fall below 50% of the total daily feed by weight.
If you would like help deciding how much to feed your horse or pony, HorseHage have a dedicated and knowledgeable team of advisors, both online and by phone, ready to discuss your individual queries.
How much HorseHage should I feed?
Typically the same calculated weight as hay but ideally more, to ensure adequate fibre levels are met, and as part of a balanced diet.
HorseHage is too rich for my horse.
This is a common misconception. Because we can state and guarantee the levels of nutrients, and it is available in several different types, HorseHage can be used as the basis for all feeds, rather than just being fed to fulfil the fibre needs, as so much hay often is. Problems will only arise if too much hard feed or the wrong type of HorseHage is given. Most people do not know the nutritional value of their hay, and need to give hard feed to make up for deficiencies. You can select the right type of HorseHage for your situation. Many horses and ponies in little or no work do very well on just HorseHage with a good quality vitamin/mineral supplement.
I would like to use HorseHage, but it is just too expensive.
Another common myth. As HorseHage is so much more nutritious than hay, it can be used to supply other nutrients, so hard feed can be reduced. It is usually no more expensive to use a ration based on HorseHage than one based on hay, and can often be less expensive, especially when you consider what some people are paying for hay. A further consideration is the convenience and ease of use, as well as the fact that there is no wastage, and every bale of HorseHage is guaranteed. Hay soon becomes expensive when you have to throw bad bales away, or rent storage space to keep it in.
Will my horse eat HorseHage more quickly than hay and become bored?
Some horses will initially eat HorseHage more quickly because it is so palatable and moist, and for this reason we recommend a special small mesh HorseHage net. However, research shows that after about 2 weeks, most horses revert to their original speed of eating.
Why should I feed HorseHage rather than soaking hay?
Because soaking hay reduces its nutritional value even further, as up to 70% of water- soluble carbohydrates and 20% of protein is lost. Plus, soaking does not remove, only dampens the dust and spores, so as the hay dries in the net, it will revert to being just as harmful. Many horses also find soaked hay unpalatable, so eat it more slowly, adding to the drying out problem. With HorseHage there is not the problem of the smell and disposal of the water used to soak hay, which has a similar composition to raw sewage, not to mention the problems of water freezing in the winter.
If I had a horse with a respiratory problem, I would feed HorseHage, but my horse is OK, so I don’t need it do I?
All horses benefit from being fed HorseHage rather than hay, due to its nutrient content and dust-free nature. It has been shown that an environment with dust and mould present is harmful to horses and humans, so why wait until you have a problem? Respiratory disease is a cumulative problem – all horses are born with healthy lungs!
My HorseHage seems to have some sort of yellowy-white mould on it – is it safe to use?
If it is powdery, and can be brushed off, it is a harmless yeast – in fact some companies now sell yeast to feed to horses. However, if in doubt, or if the texture is that of cotton wool or any colour other than white, contact your stockist for further advice. (Occasionally mould grows in a bag that has been punctured).
How long does a bag of HorseHage keep?
Unopened, for up to 18 months, and once opened, it should be used within 5 – 7 days. However, any bags with holes in should not be used. (unless they are used within 5 – 7 days of the hole being made)
Can HorseHage be fed to horses and ponies prone to laminitis?
A common cause of laminitis is too much sugar in the grass in spring and autumn, and grazing should be restricted at these times of year. High Fibre HorseHage can safely be fed at controlled levels to maintain fibre levels and keep the gut moving at these times. An additional vitamin/mineral supplement should be fed, and starchy or high sugar feeds removed from the diet. On no account should the animal be starved, as this can lead to further problems.
HorseHage will give my pony laminitis because it is too high in sugar isn’t it?
When HorseHage ferments it uses up all the soluble sugars, leaving the end product containing less than 5% sugar, which is a lot lower than virtually any hay, so High Fibre and Timothy HorseHage are a more positive step to managing horses and ponies prone to laminitis than hay.
My pony is too fat, should I cut down on the HorseHage?
If not already using it, switch to High Fibre HorseHage, and reduce the other components of the diet. Check that you are feeding the correct amount overall, and use a vitamin/mineral supplement.
If HorseHage is more digestible than hay, will my horse get more from it and will it predispose it to Azoturia (tying-up)?
The balance of fibre and energy is important, and the energy in the hard feed should be reduced to make up for the energy that HorseHage provides, so that the fibre levels are still maintained. In this way, the energy levels in the overall diet will not increase, and the horse will be at no increased risk.
How quickly can I change from hay to HorseHage?
We would recommend that you change over at least a 4 to 5 day period to allow the gut microflora time to adjust.
I have a thin, “fizzy” horse, whose temperament gets worse if I increase the hard feed to put weight on. Can HorseHage help in this case?
It is thought that overfeeding starchy ingredients, which are not digested in the small intestine, but which are fermented in the hind gut, may cause digestive disturbances, which may lead to abnormal behaviour. Thus increasing the hard feed will increase the problem. The energy in HorseHage comes mostly from digestible fibre, so is not likely to cause this problem when correctly introduced (see above)
As HorseHage is a “high protein” feed, does it cause “heating”?
Although excess protein in the diet is broken down and used as energy, it is generally not protein which causes exuberant behaviour, but energy. Protein is the “body building” part of the diet. The protein levels in HorseHage are carefully controlled, so that they do not exceed that which the horse can cope with. “Fizziness” occurs as a result of other components of the diet, together with temperament.(see above)
How does HorseHage compare to silage?
Although cheap and widely available, and apparently dust and mould free, generally speaking, big bale silage is not ideal for feeding to horses, as there is little intact protein and the nutrient values are very variable. It is much more difficult to handle, and is very wet and messy. The dry matter content is usually less than 50% and it has a high pH – conditions which are ideal for the growth of Clostridium botulinum – the botulism-causing organism. There have been several well-documented cases of horses dying from botulism – it is not visible in the bale and is not worth the risk, no matter how cheap the silage appears. The low pH of HorseHage tends to destroy any pathogens which may be present, and although both are at risk from holes in the bags, the smaller size of the HorseHage bag means less product will be affected. The differences can be summarised:
Table to compare HorseHage with Big bale Silage as a Suitable Feed for Horses
|HorseHage||Big Bale Silage|
|Dry matter %||55%||as low as 25%|
|pH suitable for horses||Yes||No|
|Ease of handling||Excellent||Poor|
|Stated nutrient levels||Yes||No|
|Additive – free||Yes||No|
|Safe for horses||Yes||Risk of botulism|
|Suitable nutrient levels for horses||Yes||No|
|Suitable for single horse owner||Yes||No|
|Suitable for travelling||Yes||No|
|Suitability as feed for horses||Excellent||Poor|