A 1,000-pound horse will need at least 20 pounds of roughage each day. Use the following tips from the American Quarter Horse Association to select the best hay for your horse:
1--Open several bales to evaluate the hay inside. Don?t worry about slight discoloration on the outside, especially in stacked hay.
2--Choose hay that is as fine-stemmed, green and leafy as possible, and is soft to the touch.
3--Avoid hay that is over-cured, excessively sun-bleached or smells moldy, musty, dusty or fermented.
4--Select hay that has been harvested when the plants are in early bloom for legume hay or before seed heads have formed in grasses.
5--Avoid hay that contains a significant amounts of weeds, dirt or trash.
6--Examine hay for signs of insect infestation or disease. Check for blister beetles in alfalfa. Ask the grower about any potential problems in the region.
7--Reject bales that seem heavy for their size or feel warm to the touch, as they could contain excess moisture that could cause mold or spontaneous combustion.
8--Purchase and feed hay within a year of harvest to take advantage of its nutritional value.
9--Store hay in a dry, sheltered area out of the rain, snow and sun, or cover the hay to protect it from the elements.
10--When buying in quantity, have the hay analyzed by a certified forage lab to determine its actual nutrient content.
More information on feeding from the American Quarter Horse Association: