Last Updated on October 1, 2022
Growing your own hay for your horses can be a great investment, but in order to do this, you need to select the best horse hay seed mixture for your local climate and conditions. Not all grasses and types of pasture make good hay, so it is important to do your research carefully before embarking on a haymaking project. Let’s find out everything you need to know about growing grass for hay, including the best horse hay seed mixture to use.
Does All Grass Make Hay?
Many people assume that all grass could be grown into hay. Whilst this is true to some extent, some grasses are much better than others for making hay. All grasses will grow long and can be dried, but some types retain far more nutritional benefits than others.
Another common misconception is the grass used to make hay is the same as the grasses that horses eat in their pasture land. Again, you could use the same pasture for both grazing and haymaking, but most farmers designate two different areas for this. This is because the shorter, lush grasses used for grazing do not always make the best quality hay.
If you are seeding an area of land to grow hay, you need to make sure you choose the right mix of grasses to grow hay that is nutritious and stores well. Good grass hay should have thin stems and a high proportion of leafy material. It should have minimal seeds and be free from dust and mold spores.
To achieve this, grass is cut for hay before it reaches maturity. Grass that has gone to seed will have lost a lot of nutritional value and will contain a high proportion of indigestible fibre. Grass that is intended to be cut for hay should grow quickly, enabling the farmers take more than one crop in a good year.
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What Is The Best Horse Hay Seed Mixture?
Most hay fields contain two or more different types of grasses which will make good quality hay. Which you choose will depend on your local climate and ground conditions. You will also need to have taken to account if you are sowing the seed on bare ground or an area that has already got grass in situ.
Here are the most similar, most common types of grass seed included in a hay seed mix:
- Timothy Grass – a very hardy perennial, suitable for cooler climates. Highly palatable and often included in premium hay seed mixes.
- Tall Fescue – may require cutting earlier than some types of grass. Lower nutritional value, suitable for horses that are prone to weight gain.
- Perennial Ryegrass – not suitable for areas prone to drought. Can be grown for both forage and hay.
- Orchardgrass – a shade-tolerant grass with high nutritional value.
- Alfalfa – a legume rather than grass, grown for its high protein content.
- Clover – another legume that improves the palatability of hay.
Some other types of grass seed that are sold for horse grazing land are not suitable for cutting for hay. One example of this is Kentucky Bluegrass, which is low growing and does not give a good yield when cut for hay. It will also reduce the quantity of other grasses, so should only be sown on land that is intended to be grazed.
How To Choose The Best Horse Hay Seed Mixture
As the horse hay seed mixture varies so widely according to your region and climate, the best place to seek advice is in your local area. Your regular feed merchant or agricultural store should stock one or more different hay seed mixtures. They may also supply individual types of grass seed for over-seeding tired pasture land.
If you are struggling to grow good quality hay, it may benefit you to seek the expert help of an agronomist. They will be able to assess the health of your soil and see if any extra nutrients required to help improve your hay crop. An expert will also be able to select the best horse hay seed mixture, and can save you money in the long run.
So, as we have learned, the best horse hay seed mixture will vary according to your local climate and conditions. In most moderate climates, a horse hay seed mixture will consist of a mix of gases such as timothy, fescue, rye grass and orchardgrass. Grasses grown for hay does not make always make the best grazing land for horses, so you may have to allocate separate areas for growing hay.
We would love to hear your thoughts on how to choose the best horse hay seed mixture! Are you interested in growing hay for horses but don’t know where to start? Or perhaps you’re considering re-seeding your land, but would like some advice on the best grass seed to use? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!
What kind of grass seed is best for horses?
If you are sowing or reseeding pasture land for horses, you will need to pick a good grass seed mix which is suitable for your local climate and soil conditions. Most horse grass seed mixes normally contain a mix of Kentucky bluegrass, timothy, and orchardgrass.
What is the best hay mix?
Grass grown for hay should produce a high proportion of leafy material for the best palatability and highest nutritional content. In most moderate climates, this will normally consist of a mix of timothy grass, orchardgrass, fescue and ryegrass
What's the best hay for horses?
The best hay for horses will have been cut and dried before it is fully mature. It should contain minimal seed heads and plenty of leafy material. Good quality hay will be light green in colour and have a sweet smell.
Is timothy or alfalfa better for horses?
Timothy grass and alfalfa are both good for horses, but have different nutritional content. Which one is better for your horse will depend on many factors, such as their age, weight, and exercise levels. Most horse owners preferred to feed a mix of timothy grass and alfalfa rather than sticking to one or the other.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE