What can I do if the hay in my area is not good, or if there’s a hay shortage or I have an emergency? Can I use hay pellets?
I am often asked this question - and my first response is to talk to your Veterinarian and/or Equine Nutritionist to see if hay pellets are appropriate for your horse as part of his diet or his whole diet. That being said, I’ll also add that horses have a way of humbling us...and in this case, I have been very humbled! For many years, I had a grudge against hay pellets. How on earth could they be better than long stem forage that comes in a bale? Why on earth do they even need to be on the market? They are so “unnatural” - they can’t possibly be good!
Let’s just say I have eaten a whole lot of crow in this department - I now own a horse that can’t eat any other food besides hay pellets!!
They are small - much smaller than hay cubes. And just as tasty!
Here’s why I now love pellets:
-Consistent, dust free, weed free, bug free, squashed snake and bird free, twig free, metal free hay product.
-Guaranteed analysis on every bag. No need to send off samples to a lab if you need to know what’s in your horse’s forage.
Same size as other feeds. Easy to store, easy to move around. And much more maneuvarable than a bale of hay!
-Easy to store, transport, and keep rodent free.
-Even easier to weigh and feed, no wasted hay out the back of the wagon. It all fits in a bucket!
-Even easier to eliminate wasted food, nothing blows away, gets peed on, or smushed by hooves.
-Lots of varieties available all over the country.
-Moving your horse to a new barn, city, or even state can be made safer by using pellets instead of switching hay when you land in your new home.
-Easy to feed during trailer rides, no worry about hay bits floating around the trailer.
-Great for senior horses with chewing issues or digestive issues. The consistency is much easier on sensitive digestive systems.
-Pound for pound equivalent with hay, so no crazy math skills needed to calculate how much you should be feeding.
You can add supplements and medicines to hay pellets. Spritz with water, stir, and you get a lovely (and weird looking) meal for your horse.
Downsides and what you can do about it:
-Some horses will scarf them down. This can result in choke. To avoid this and increase "chewability", wet the hay pellets lightly, or soak them into a hay mash. Hay mashes are also great for horses with dental issues.
-Most horses will eat five pounds of pellets faster than five pounds of hay. Using a slow feeder or providing smaller meals more frequently will remedy that.
-If you horse is not chewing as much, you may find him wanting to chew other things...so be prepared with ideas, toys, exercise, friends, etc. to keep him busy.
Easy to store, easy to measure, easy to transport!
You may not want to use hay pellets all the time unless absolutely necessary, but it’s good to know you have options if needed.
What are your thoughts on hay pellets?