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Division of Marketing and Development
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Mayo Building, M-9
407 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800
(850) 617-7300

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Adam H. Putnam, Commissioner

Tips On Hay

The most important factor to consider when purchasing hay is the kind of animal that you will be feeding. Generally, horses need better quality hay than cattle, since horses cannot tolerate as much dust or mold. However, all species require good nutrition. Gestation, lactation, conception, and performance are all influenced by the quality of hay and feed provided for them.

Many kinds of grasses and legumes are grown in Florida as hay for livestock. Among those are Coastal Bermudagrass, Callie Bermudagrass, Pensacola and Argentine Bahiagrass, Pangola, Alicia, Alyce Clover, Stargrass, Peanut, Perennial Peanut, Oat hay and Rye straw, and others. These can be sold as straight grass, or as a mixture of grasses or legumes. Wheat straw is used by many horse owners for bedding.

Oats cut when the grain is starting to enter the milk stage make excellent hay. It is also very palatable, medium in protein content, and higher in energy than many other types of hay.

Many horse owners like to feed their horses alfalfa hay or a timothy and alfalfa mixture. Alfalfa hay buyers should be aware that alfalfa will generally run from 15 percent to 22 percent protein. Alfalfa that has been cut early will be more palatable to horses. Young, tender plants have a very high leaf to stem ratio; also, more food value is contained in the leaves than in the stems.

Perennial peanut hay is becoming popular with horse owners for use as a replacement or as an alternative to alfalfa.

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