It is nearly the end of winter (you’d think it was already over, after this spring-like February here in Northern California!) and there is so much to look forward to as the days grow longer and the horses shed their coats.
But one issue seems to crop up this time of year: the supply of quality hay. If you are lucky enough to have storage for a year’s supply of hay, you can feel pretty good looking at that dwindling stack, but for those who replenish their hay weekly or monthly, the supply is getting tight! Rainbow Ag has a long association with our hay supplier, Menne Ranches in Fort Jones. Unfortunately, supplies have run out of one of the most popular hays for horses and other livestock; the 3-way mix. The hay is growing in the fields and will hopefully be ready to harvest in late April, at which time it will be immediately available in Rainbow’s barns again, but this also depends, like all farming, on the weather. Hay is an agricultural product and therefore is seasonal – and when the supply runs out, it is gone until the first cutting.
If you and your horses depended on and loved the 3-way hay, there are a few ways to make it through until that first cutting arrives. Some animals are more sensitive to their feeds, and some have health issues that preclude certain hays, such as alfalfa. When the supply of 3-way, grass and oat hay are low, there are other options besides alfalfa.
One of the first considerations is, how much of your hay are you replacing? Hay substitutes don’t come in “flake” measurements, so weighing the hay you are currently feeding will help you chose how much of a substitute you will need. If possible, make all changes to a horse’s diet gradually over time, to avoid risk of digestive upset. Here are some available alternatives:
- IMPACT® HAY STRETCHER can serve as a substitute for forage – hay or pasture. One pound of IMPACT® HAY STRETCHER can replace 1 to 2 lbs of hay consumed by your horse. It can be used as a complete feed to replace all forage and hay.
- Hay Cubes and Pellets come in several combinations such as alfalfa, oat hay and alfalfa, timothy, or grass. Both cubes and pellets can be soaked to make it more.
- Complete Feeds, such as Purina Equine Adult, Junior and Senior, are premium pelleted complete feeds that provide excellent quality fiber sources. These feeds are perfect for older horses or those with increased dietary needs, and can be used as a total ration or as a supplement
- Shredded or pelleted beet pulp provides a high-calorie and convenient fiber source, but might need to be soaked (increased choke risk in some horses).
For a list of forage replacements and supplements along tips in choosing the best options for your horse, check out this article – When Good Hay Is Hard To Find – from Purina senior nutritionist, Dr. Kelly Vineyard, and if you are running short on horse hay, talk to one of Rainbow’s experienced staff. We can help get your horses through to that first cutting in a couple months!
Spring! You won’t want to miss any of the events coming up at Rainbow stores near you!
March 13 – Equine Education Event at the Middletown Rainbow store. Thursday evening 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM. Meet with Purina representative Jordan Baumgartner to learn the basic of equine nutrition and the variety of feeds available for your horses.
March 14 – Poultry Party all day at Lakeport, Ukiah and Middletown stores. Save on all poultry and supplies, Free Kids Activities, educational seminars.
March 29th Drip Irrigation Sale – $6.99 100’ rolls of ½ tube
April 10 & 11 – No Tax Outdoor Power Equipment Sale. Save on all OPE!
April Date to be Announced – Alfalfa Sale
May 1, 2 & 3 Annual Spring Anniversary Sale. Rainbow’s biggest sale of the year!
The winner of the $15.00 Rainbow Gift Card is Kathy from Upper Lake. She is looking forward to attending the Draft Horse Classic! Others of you were are anticipating fun times in the arena, trail riding and just spending time with your horses.
This month, we go back to a Trivia Question: What can be used to replace hay? All correct answers will be entered in a random drawing for a $15 Rainbow Gift Card!