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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hay results are back!

Deb from the very-helpful-folks at Elk Grove Milling ( has once again shown me the benefits of dealing locally. This morning I took 3 hay samples for analysis:
  • Alfalfa hay fed before/during tye up
  • Grass hay fed before/during tye up
  • Grass hay that is currently being fed

The results were very interesting! They were done with the NIR method, which can a bit less accurate than a wet lab test for carbs, but I think as a comparative test between the 3 hays, it was very insightful.

Below is an edited e-mail to my veterinarian on the results:


"I thought you might be interested in a summary of the results - I'll bring the full copies of the reports when I see you next month. Below is my interpretation of the data, but if you have a different insight, than I welcome it, as *most* of my nutrition in college was avian based!

The alfalfa she was fed before/during the tye up had a simple sugar level of 6.75 and starch of 10.36 for a combined value of 17.11. The grass hay she was fed before/during the tye up had a simple sugar level of 6.64 and a starch of 14.8 for a combined value of 21.11 (purchased from Wheeler) The grass hay I'm purchasing from Turlock feed has a simple sugar level of 8.49 and a starch of 7.80 for a combined value of 16.29.

I know these aren't the only numbers to be taken into consideration, however I think the differences in sugar was a significant factor. The NFC (calculated) value is higher in "my" grass than the [stable] hays, however as this contains NDSF values as well, it doesn't concern me. The NDF value of "my" hay is slightly lower, indicating a better digestibility. The "Sol_carbo" (soluble carbohydrates I assume....) is much higher in "my" hay (12.20 versus 7.83 in the grass hay fed by the stable), however I'm not sure whether it is a water soluble or ethanol soluble measure, so I'm assuming this measurement is less useful for now than the other carb numbers I have. "


I also took the opportunity to look at the minerals in the hays (comparing only the 2 grass hays). The profiles were very similar with the manganese being a bit higher than ideal, but the amounts/ratios of the other minerals were very good. Calcium/phosphorus ratio is almost a 1:1 with the Ca being slightly higher (good).


Protein in "my" grass hay is fairly good (18), however lower than the stable grass hay (20) and the alfalfa that was being fed at the stable (~19-20).


Although I will not be able to test every batch of hay I purchase, this gives me a the peace of mind that at least for now - I'm doing the right thing. The sugars may not be "ideally" low, but it's lower than what was being fed, so that will have to do for now. The feedstore that I'm purchasing from doesn't go through their grass hay superfast, so at least for the next couple of months, I will be feeding the cutting that was tested.

One interesting comparison was the mineral content of the hays - the 2 grass hays are locally grown, but the alfalfa is not - it's purchased from a broker and (*I think*) comes from Nevada. The mineral profiles are very different - the manganese levels in the alfalfa is much lower (and closer to the "ideal" ratio between zinc/copper etc.), sodium is much lower, and the phosphorus is significantly different.

Applying Knowledge

Another management change I'll be doing, based on these results is discontinuing the ration balancer I'm using - the mineral profile looks very good and is consistent if I stay with locally grown hays (based on an admittedly small sample!), so that's one less variable in her diet I need to worry about!


  1. What was the selenium level?

  2. This test doesn't cover selenium.

    In any case, I prefer to do a whole blood sample to get a accurate reading of what is in the horse. Becuase both hays are grown locally and the other mineral profiles are extremely similar, I would assume that the selenium would be fairly consistent.

    I will be testing Farley in ~4 weeks to recheck selenium levels so I'll know for sure what the hay change and the supplementing is starting to do with her levels. I'll let you know!!!!! I've read that it can take a while before supplementing impacts the testable level, but it will let me know that I haven't done something terrible and she's way high......because that would be bad..... :)


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