You probably have heard the phrase, “hay is for horses”, well, it is not entirely true, hay can be fed to a variety of livestock and smaller animals. With different types of hay, it is easier to find the best hay feed for the livestock. Each hay type has its pros and cons, however, you can easily find perfect forage, befitting the nutrients requirements of horses or livestock.
Horses love to graze on green pastures all year round but it is nearly as good to feed them hay. It’s convenient, maintains digestive health, and keeps horses satisfied and occupied. Common hay types include Timothy, Wheaten, Meadow, and Oaten.
These are commonly used to feed horses. There is no absolute winner or loser, all hay types come with different benefits and nutritional value.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on Oaten or Oat hay today. Its nutritional value is different from the other hay types. Oat hay is often baled once the grain is removed and can be used as straw bedding as well. So, without further ado, let’s find out what makes Oaten Hay stand out from the rest.
What is Oaten Hay?
Oaten is a premium quality, high fiber, and full-flavored hay with a distinctive, nutty flavor and crunchy texture. It is not only vital for good digestive health but promotes healthy teeth as well.
Oat is hardy hay with thicker and tougher stalks than other hay types, which is often rejected by horses.
It is not easier to eat and keeps the animal busy chewing for quite a long time. It is high in sugar therefore, avoid giving it to insulin-resistant animals.
Like some other grass hays, oat hay meets the nutritional needs of herbivores that need high fiber and low protein.
This hay has low levels of protein and low calcium. Oaten hay is often blended with oat, wheat, and barley.
With the inclusion of other crops, it becomes rich in vitamins, fiber, and other minerals and low in protein.
It is often available blended with other hays. The smaller animals like the crunchiness of the seed husks and their flavor.
Advantages Of Oaten Hay of Horses
It is fit for a majority of livestock members for several reasons. Livestock farmers are more than happy to feed oat hay to the livestock. It benefits in various ways like
Maintains Digestive Health
Oat hay is composed of long-strand fiber which is necessary to maintain the digestive health of different herbivores. Regular oaten hay consumption delivers essential roughage for healthy gut function.
As is established earlier, the oat hay has long, thick strands which increase the chewing time along with the gnawing activity. It helps to clean and wear down your pet’s constantly growing teeth.
This high fiber hay has all the essential vitamins, minerals, and other supplements to maintain the health of different animals. It can be used to treat a nutrients deficiency. Daily intake will deliver all the essential nutrients for improved body functionality.
If you want a low protein diet for the horse, oat hay would be it. It has high fiber and a low level of protein perfect for herbivores who need a low protein diet.
Other Hay Blend
It can be a mixture of wheat, oats, barley, or other crops. It is rarely sold as pure oat hay and readily available as blended hay. It is tasty with crunchy seed heads and deliciousness imported from other hays.
Disadvantages of Oaten Hay
Like every other hay type, it has some cons as well which an owner should be aware of before finalizing the decision.
If you want to buy hay purely made of oats, it is important to know that you would have to pay a significant amount of money to ensure daily intake. Oat blended with other hay would not be as pricey as pure oat hay. Pure oat hay is not readily available as Meadow or Timothy Hay.
Some horses refuse to eat it for being hardy and a lot of hay goes to waste because of the thicker strands. Horses eat some of it while the rest is trodden underfoot.
It contains several nutrients mostly fiber with a little percentage of protein. The following figure may differ as per the feed prepared by different feed stores.
- Crude Protein 7.00%
- Crude Fat 1.50%
- Crude Fiber 32.00%
- Moisture maximum 15.00%
Oat Hay Plantation
Like other crops, oats are planted and cut at a particular time under specific conditions. Oats are usually planted and grown during cool spring and fall weather. This time is ideal to plant oats as the moisture in the soil can be used most efficiently to produce forage.
This hay crop is usually grown in a cool temperature climate. In the US, oat hay is mainly grown in three states; South Dakota and North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Other Hay options for horses
Ideal Cutting Time For Oat Hay
Oat hay cut at the right time has high nutrients levels. The perfect time to cut oat hay is when the oat seed is out of the milk stage and into the dough. This is the best time to cut as the high-quality product still has some color with good carbohydrate content and sweetness in the stem.
Cutting at the right time means stalks are not yet thicker and tougher, therefore, animals can eat the entire hay stem with little waste. Check for mold or discoloration before buying a bale of oat hay.
Feeding Oaten Hay to Livestock and Smaller Animals
Oat hay is not only for the horses to consume, feel free to give it to cattle, sheep, goats, camel, guinea pigs, and rabbits. For daily feeding, add a specific amount to the regular diet.
All hay types enjoy an equal place in the world when it comes to feeding animals. Oaten hay is full of benefits and perfect for young horses and livestock members. It delivers the most nutrients when cut at the perfect time during the blooming stage.
- Retrospective case review investigating the effect of replacing oaten hay
- 2020 Plant diseases impacting oaten hay production in Australia