horse was recently diagnosed with an allergy to hay.
What other options are available?
the current drought taking a heavy toll on the Maryland
hay industry, even
those without horses allerigic to hay may be looking for good hay alternatives.
There are several options that you should consider
when feeding a horse
with an allergy
to hay. The first option is to continue to feed hay, but you would
need to change
the type and/or the way it is fed. Changing to a high quality grass,
mixed, or alfalfa
hay that’s not dry, dusty, overly mature, or contaminated with
mold may be beneficial
to your horse. Many hays that look visually free of mold actually carry
that, over time, contribute to causing a hay allergy. High quality hays
that are cut and
baled at the right time and are usually green, leafy, soft to the touch,
and free of dust
are ideal to feed to horses. Keep in mind that some allergies to hay
only develop when
a horse is fed a certain species of hay (e.g. Timothy, Orchardgrass,
Alfalfa), but they
are fine when they are fed a different species of hay.
option is take high quality hay and soak it in
water for 10 minutes just before feeding. Soaking
to reduce the dust associated
with feeding hay. However, soaking won’t eliminate mold spores,
important to feed quality hay that’s free of potential molds.
hay cubes or pellets that are commercially available
and generally lower in dust and fine particles
is another option. Processed hay cubes
pellets are made from coarsely chopped dry hay that is compressed
cube or pellet shape. Alfalfa is usually the species of choice
to use in hay
cubes because it sticks together better than grasses. Play close
the nutrient content stated on the alfalfa cube or pellet bag
likely feeding a diet that’s higher in protein, vitamin,
and mineral content
than before. If you were also adding grain or supplements to
diet, the amount of those that you feed along with alfalfa cubes
to be reduced. Hay cubes and pellets can also be soaked for 10
minutes prior to feeding time.
horses with allergies to hay do quite well when they
are turned out on pasture.
Pasture has a high water content and it is unlikely to be moldy
like hay. Keep in
mind that if a horse has an allergy to a certain hay species,
they are likely to have
an allergy to the same species in the pasture. Also, some horses
allergies and can become allergic to pollen in the grasses
and in the trees surrounding
the pasture. In those extreme cases, horses have to be housed
on dry lots and fed
changing the type and manner that hay is fed to
your horse doesn’t
his condition within one week, your horse is likely a candidate
for a hay substitute.
Feeding shredded beet pulp to a horse with hay allergies
is common. Beet pulp is a
by-product of sugar beet processing and it contains about
10% protein and 18% fiber.
The advantages of feeding beet pulp are that few horses
have developed allergies to
it, it’s easy to purchase, handle, and store, relatively
inexpensive, easy to soak and
feed, and highly palatable and digestible. Soaking of beet
pulp 1- 2 hours before is
suggested, however, several studies have found that feeding
horses up to 45% of their
daily diet as dried beet pulp has not been found to cause
any adverse effects in horses.
Some of the disadvantages of feeding beet pulp are that
not an equal substitute to
hay in that is contains lower quantities of vitamins and
minerals. Therefore, a vitamin
and mineral supplement may be offered when feeding a diet
that contains a significant
amount of beep pulp.
could also contact several local feed companies and
ask them if they have
commercially available products that have been specifically
formulated for horses with allergies. Some companies
have a “complete” feed
that has a high fiber content along
with providing other important nutrients like carbohydrates,
protein, vitamins, and
minerals. Many of those complete feeds include beet pulp
to contribute to the fiber
are many options for feeding a horse with a hay allergy.
When you make a
change to the diet to see if it helps reduce the allergic
condition, try out one change at
a time and try to wait a week to see if it helps. If
you try too many changes at once,
you may not be able to figure out what works for your
Amy Burk - University of Maryland