5 Different Types of Chaff For Horses

If you want the horse to have the best diet, Chaff should definitely be a part of it. With the continuous supply of fibrous material, the horse’s digestive system works best and helps maintain health. Chaff feeding can be a valuable hay replacer but expensive at the same time.

Types of Chaff For Horses

Chaff can be of any hay type but some grass species make a perfect blend in the regular diet. Chaff or chopped hay, available at the local feed store, is high-quality hay that can serve as a principal forage source for horses.

Different chaff types are available today in the market used for different purposes.

  • Wheaten Chaff
  • Oaten Chaff
  • Lucerne Chaff
  • Meadow Chaff
  • Timothy Chaff

Wheaten Chaff

Wheaten Chaff is a finely cut hay, high in fiber, and can be used as a low energy roughage. Being a palatable feed source, it is used as bulking roughage feed when combined with a grain-based diet of racing and working horses. This low-energy roughage should be fed to overweight horses with 2 :1 with grains.

Produced from early cut crop or wheat stubble, this chaff is widely used in horses and stud cattle rations.

Besides being an excellent forage, it is also designed to slow down the intake of grains and the higher calorific portions. It can be used as a supplement and fed as part of a balanced diet.

If the Oaten Chaff does not sit well with the horse’s digestive system, Wheaten chaff can replace it to be a part of the diet. Chaffing occurs with finely cut fibrous flakes approximately 2cm wide.

Nutritional Analysis

The early cut Wheaten Chaff contains sugar in volume and increased energy content. It includes nutrients like

  • Protein 4.00%
  • Calcium 0.27%
  • Phosphorus 0.07%
  • Crude Fibre 37.9%
  • Energy Mj/kg 6.20%

Direction For Use

  • Use it as a part of a balanced diet of cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and breeding pigs.
  • The maximum inclusion rate in the total diet for horses is 30%.
  • Keep it in cool, dry conditions and away from vermin.

Oaten Chaff

Oaten Chaff is more palatable, sweeter, flatter, and softer than Wheaten Chaff. This fiber-rich chaff has often high sugar and starch levels and poor mineral levels.

The High sugar content makes it more palatable and responsible for increased energy content.

It will keep stock and horses happy, healthy, and satisfied throughout the years. Process the chaff with steam to help reduce dust.

When Oaten Chaff becomes a part of the daily diet, it adds critical levels of protein, vitality, and vitamins.

Perfect for blending in the mix with Wheaten and Lucerne chaff together with grain and protein meal-based concentrates.

When added with a concentrate feed, slows the intake of the concentrate, and helps prevent starch overload in the hindgut.

Oaten Chaff is made by cutting immature oat crops when the grain is still at the milky stage. It is often used as a supplement to bulk up other feeds to increase chewing, additional fiber, and energy.

Nutritional Analysis

This chaffed stubble or hay portion of an oat crop has an indicated nutrients levels as

  • Protein 4.00%
  • Calcium 0.23%
  • Phosphorus 0.06%
  • Crude Fibre 35.00%
  • Energy Mj/kg 7.50%

Directions For Use

  • Well suited for cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and breeding pigs.
  • The recommended inclusion amount is 600 grams for each 100kg of body weight.
  • Store it in cool, shaded, and dry conditions.

Lucerne Chaff

Lucerne chaff or otherwise known as Alfalfa is a chaffed Lucerne crop, very high in protein, calcium, several vitamins, and minerals. Lucerne, being a nutritious feed and source of fiber, possess a lower level of starches and sugars than many cereal or grass chaffs.

With highly digestible energy concentration, it can be used as a feed for resting or likely worked horses.

According to studies, It contains about 18% high-quality protein which provides a sufficient amount of all the essential amino acids for horses, including lysine.

Being high in protein, it is mixed with cereal chaff as a bulking feed to add roughage to a grain-based diet. Identify the highest quality chaff with its green color and a high proportion of leaf. It is good for digestive health as it is very palatable and highly digestible.

Overfeeding prime green Lucerne chaff leads to bloating in cattle and colic in horses. Introduce prime green lucerne chaff to horse’s diet gradually and prevent overfeeding to avoid colic.

Nutritional Analysis

Lucerne includes nutrients such as

  • Protein 21.0%
  • Calcium 1.40%
  • Phosphorus 0.26%
  • Crude Fibre 25.2%
  • Energy 57.6%

Direction For Use

  • Include as a part of a balanced diet of horses, beef and dairy cattle, pigs (Weaner, Grower, Breeder), poultry, and sheep.
  • The suggested maximum inclusion rate in a horse’s diet is 50%.
  • Store it in a clean, dry, and shaded place.

Meadow Chaff

Meadow Chaff varieties are a combination of all types of grass harvested. It is a nutritious source of fiber that can have unknown and varied levels of minerals and protein.

Meadow chaff has all the perks of hay except it is available in chopped pieces, it can also be mixed with other feed to increase chewing time, additional fiber, and energy.

It contains low starch content and can be used as a fiber and bulk additive for concentrated feeds.


This high-quality forage feed should be cut at an earlier stage to get maximum nutrients. The later the grass is harvested the lower the protein and energy levels should be expected. The amount of leaf to stalk (stem) determines the quality and its energy content.

Nutritional Analysis

  • Dry Matter
  • Digestible Energy 7.83 MJ/kg
  • Crude Protein
  • Fiber

Directions For Use

  • Feed horses, cattle, sheep, and goats
  • Feed-in moderate amount

Timothy Chaff

It is a variety of grass species mostly grown in New Zealand and Australia. Timothy works well in blends by adding palatability.

It is ideal chaff because of its low uptake of soil minerals like potassium that can cause problems with animal health.

It contains low protein and sugar levels than Lucerne. Timothy also has low non-structural carbohydrates which makes it ideal for horses with metabolic issues like laminitis or insulin resistance. It is a horse-friendly grass species, perfect for premium racehorses.

Nutritional Analysis

  • Protein
  • NSC
  • Calcium

Directions For Use

  • Feed horses, livestock, and pigs
  • Mix it with a regular diet in a moderate amount
  • Keep in a dry and shaded place away from germs.
  • Do not use moldy chaff

Feeding Chaff to Horses

Chaff is a forage, not a complete feed, therefore, it should only be added as a supplement or part of the regular diet. To make the diet nutritionally balanced, add vitamins, minerals, or supplements along with the chaff. Make sure to cut with a proper chaff cutter.

Chaff is a form of roughage that is often mixed with the concentrate portion of a horse’s feed. This is done so that the horse consumes forage in addition to the concentrate. It also increases the chewing time and slows down the intake of concentrate. Increased chewing time means that the concentrate enters the digestive tract slowly which allows simple carbohydrates to be fully absorbed in the small intestine.

Finding the Right Chaff Type

As you may know already, the nutritional content of each chaff type is different from the other. There is a wide variety of horse chaffs with different fiber sources. It is important to find the right type for each horse. Even though it is fed in small amounts, chaff influences a horse’s health in many ways.


There is a wide range of horse chaffs but Wheaten, Oaten, Meadow, Lucerne, and Timothy are the most common. Each aforementioned chaff type has a different protein and sugar content. Chaff is perfect for older horses, working, and racehorses. It is also used to replace the missing nutrients in a horse’s diet.


Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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