The Horse

OCT 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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TheHorse.com | The Horse October 2018 41 (free-choice) hay, the percent protein can be less." A good-quality grass hay fed at 1.5 to 2% of body weight will meet most horses' protein requirements. Broodmares and weanlings might need a commercial feed or alfalfa hay to meet their higher protein requirements, says Thunes. Q How do I know if there's enough selenium in the soil where my hay was grown, and when should I supplement? Selenium plays many roles in a horse's body, but perhaps most important are as an antioxidant and thyroid hormone metabolism regulator. "Selenium levels in plants are dictated by the soil it was grown in and whether the plant is one that accumulates selenium, so knowing where your hay was grown and whether it's a high- or low-selenium soil area will help," Thunes says, adding that a Google search will bring up maps of regional selenium levels. "Generally, soil (selenium) levels in the Pacific Northwest are low," she says. "Some northeast and central states are high. If you are in an area where it's known to be low, it's safe to say you need a selenium supplement. You may not need to supplement if you are already feeding a vitamin-mineral supplement or a com- mercially fortified feed, as both of these likely already have selenium in them." Hay analyses don't usually include selenium levels; the most accurate way to test if your horse's selenium needs are being met is with bloodwork. Ask your veterinarian if you need to test for and supplement it in your horses. Q What are the pros and cons of buying compressed hay? One of the biggest benefits compressed hay offers is its smaller package. "This makes it easier to transport and maneu- ver," says Meccage. The tight packaging makes for a denser bale and can help prevent weathering from rain or snow. "However, that higher density also has potential to create more problems if the hay was baled too wet, (because) there is less opportunity for it to dry down to a safe level after baling," she adds. "Compa- nies and producers are very aware of this and work hard to ensure that this does not occur, through the use of things like moisture testers or quality analysis." Q Is there a nutritional difference between irrigated and dryland hay? The difference between irrigated and dryland hay primarily has to do with maturity at harvest, rather than water- ing practices. "With most irrigated fields, because the plants aren't water-stressed, they aren't going to mature as rapidly, so the producer can harvest at a slightly more immature stage and still have improved regrowth," says Meccage. "In the traditional dryland sense, like what we have here in the West, to make up for the slower growth and still have enough yield, producers may harvest a little later. But this is not always the case and can vary from producer to producer, field to field." Q What weeds found in hay are toxic to horses? Depending on where you live, you might have to keep an eye out for a vari- ety of weeds. Your local extension office or land grant university, as well as veteri- narians and equine nutritionists, can help you know what to look for in your area. "Common concerns I look for, and which can be found in many places throughout the U.S., are poison hemlock and water hemlock, tansy ragwort, Rus- sian knapweed, and hoary alyssum," says Meccage. "The best thing to do is become familiar with the plants in your area and Weighing hay is critical to avoid over- or under- feeding and to save money in the long run. ALAYNE BLICKLE

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