Hay and Straw
Selecting Quality Hay
Absent of any equipment to test Hay or Alfalfa, most of us need to rely on a visual and physical inspection to determine if the product is suitable for the needs of our horse. We look at color, leafiness, presence of weeds, odor, and for insects or dust. Although sometimes subjective, a veteran horse owner can usually rely on these techniques with some level of confidence when making a purchase. If one needs more detailed numbers on protein, fiber or minerals., an NIR or Near Infrared analysis can be done through 3rd party labs.
At the Co-op, we carry a variety of Forage to meet the needs of your horse. The two most common in the Pacific NW are Alfalfa (Legume) and Mixed Hay which is a combination of Grasses and Alfalfa, usually around an 80/20 percent mix of Grass/Alfalfa. Timothy is another popular grass that can be found at the Co-op as well as local hay purchased from local farmers.
Classifications of maintenance, working, pregnancy, lactation and growth are commonly applied to determine the nutrient levels necessary and which type of forage or legume to feed. Based on class, 50 – 100% of the required nutrients can be supplied with your choice of hay. Figures discussed amongst horse owners and nutritionists vary as much as personal preferences, but as a general rule-of-thumb, 2% of their body weight is a common figure. If your horse weighed 1,000 pounds, that would equate to 20 pounds of hay. One must also take into consideration the amount of grains and supplements used to arrive at the optimal combination of ingredients to provide a balanced diet for your horse. We recommend you consult your local veterinarian to ensure your horse is receiving a proper diet.
After you purchase your hay, proper storage is critical to prevent deterioration and spoilage. A dry area and not on concrete will prevent moisture from affecting the quality. Pallets are commonly used to elevate the hay and allow circulation of air to prevent mold. Storing hay with too much moisture under the right conditions can lead to spontaneous combustion with catastrophic results.
We also carry straw bales that can be used for bedding, gardening, archery, erosion control on construction sites, or props for your favorite October Halloween events.
Product availability changes throughout the year. Please contact us for current availability and pricing. The Co-op also provides local delivery to Snohomish and North King County.