Monday, December 12, 2011

List of Roughage Sources for Horses

Feeding horses roughage such as alfalfa keeps them healthy.

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Roughage contains a high concentration of insoluble fiber and calcium, which helps keep the digestive tract and bones of horses healthy. Horses that graze in a pasture consume an adequate amount of roughage without supplementation since they take in a mix of grass and woody herbs. However, many horses are kept under more controlled conditions and must be supplied with a source of roughage to ward off diseases such as colic and laminitis.

Related Searches: Green Fodder

Green fodder refers to the natural mix of grass and woody herbs that occur naturally within a pasture environment. It is the least expensive source of roughage for horses, but is not always practical since a large parcel of land is required to provide green fodder to fulfill a horse's roughage requirements throughout the year.

Cereal Hay

Cereal hay includes oat and wheat straw, which is extremely fibrous and tough to chew. It provides slightly less calcium than other forms of roughage, but works very well to limit your horse's chances of developing colic, a gastrointestinal illness characterized by pain and bloating. While less economical than green fodder, cereal hay is more affordable than other cultivated roughage sources such as leguminous or grass hay.

Leguminous Hay

Beans, peas and alfalfa are all sources of leguminous hay, which is one of the most nutritionally dense forms of roughage. Leguminous hay contains a high concentration of water and protein and can cause diarrhea in horses if given in too great an abundance, so it is best used in moderation or mixed with cereal hay. In addition, the cost associated with producing leguminous hay makes it slightly more expensive to purchase than cereal hay, but less is needed per feeding to fulfill a horse's roughage requirements.

Grass Hay

Grass hay is the least common source of supplemental roughage for horses. It is made up of orchard, timothy, rye or other types of grass that has been mowed, cured and baled. While fairly inexpensive, grass hay--in particular fescue hay--sometimes harbors fungi that will cause damage to vulnerable horses such as pregnant mares and those with underlying health issues.

ReferencesUniversity of Missouri Extension; Feeding Horses; Wayne LochPhoto Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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