We were fortunate to have Krishona Martinson, PhD from the University of Minnesota speak at our Client Education Meeting on April 24, 2013 at the Virginia Horse Center, courtesy of our meeting sponsor, Nutrena Feeds.
* Forage analysis * Moisture content * What’s in the hay (species)
* Hay maturity * Touch and smell * Mold and weeds
* Hay nets * Using a feeder – ALWAYS for round bales.
Many of us found the results of her research on soaking hay surprising and enlightening. Welcome news for those of us who have soaked hay overnight for years: short durations of 15-30 minutes are acceptable when managing most equine conditions. In fact, her research indicates hay should never be soaked for more than one hour to avoid the loss of critical nutrients. Krishona stressed that owners and barn managers should rely on hay analysis to determine exactly what their forage may be lacking that needs to be made up in other ways.
Her research on hay feeders and hay nets was equally useful. In a box stall, waste from feeding small square bales from the ground was 7.3% versus only 1.3% when it was fed from a feeder. The difference was even more pronounced when considering feeding round bales in a feeder compared to loose on the ground. Regarding hay nets, she suggested it may take horses some time to acclimate to them and the nets with small/medium openings resulted in less hay waste than traditional nets with larger openings. As hay prices seem to rise each year, she questioned who could afford not to use a feeder.
Participants had their hay samples analyzed free of charge and learned to read and interpret the results. Many thanks to Krishona for sharing her knowledge, to Nutrena Feeds for sponsoring her presentation, our partners Augusta Cooperative Farm Bureau and the Virginia Horse Center and our co-sponsors Zoetis, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Farnam, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative and Foxden Equine.