I apologize, your hay analysis appears to have been the 604 test, which IS all by wet chemistry. So your carb numbers are reasonably accurate. I would still soak it as some horses need ESC+starch to be even lower than 10%. As for trying new hays, avoid fescue as it also makes some horse's footsore and cut alfalfa unless you know for sure it does not affect your horses. Other than that, you really have to test those hays to know if they are suitable. It's not so much grass type or hay "quality" as it is growing conditions and timing of cutting that determine carb contents. This is some advice from one of our veterinary volunteers, Jaini, on choosing hay if you have an analysis to look at:
Regarding the hay: one has to get lucky to get a nice proportion of the major minerals (calcium, phosphorus and magnesium). Proper fertilizing of the hay fields can help with that. Season of cutting likely has a much lesser effect. This is another reason to try to avoid alfalfa hays: they are quite high in calcium, necessitating the addition of more phosphorus to balance, which can be unpalatable.I look first for the ESC and starch, because I really hate soaking hay. Next, I check the ADF and NDF - if they are higher than 40% (reduces digestibilty) and 60% (reduces palatability) I might think twice. (or I might not, depending on the hay season and whatever else is available) Protein should be 8% to 11%; if it is 6% to 7.9%, I can deal with that with protein supplements, but any lower than 6% is out. (because the hay is likely no more than "grass skeletons", as Dr. Gustafson says). Season of cutting has a big effect on protein, as more mature hays generally have lower protein. Whether first cut or second cut, more depends on the weather conditions and the maturity of the hay than whether first cut or second cut. (ie - poor weather conditions often make for later than optimal cutting, and more mature hay) Proper soil analysis and fertilizing the hay fields can make a big difference in major minerals and trace minerals. I know Nancy achieved much better results from her hay grower when she tested hay, soil and got fertilizing recommendations . https://ecir.groups.io/g/main/message/193387
I go back to her advice over and over again when evaluating hays.
Your elderly mare can do quite well with more beet pulp in her diet. When you have found your hay for the year, I highly recommend consulting one of our hay balancers to design a mineral-balanced diet that is safe for her and gives her adequate calories. I believe this can include up to 30% beet pulp. That's a lot of beet pulp for you to to r/s/r, so another option is to supplement her with Triple Crown Naturals Timothy Balance cubes, which are safe and contain quite a bit of beet pulp already. Adding other easy to digest foods should help. Soy hull
pellets are also safe.
Hopefully you are soaking 24 hrs worth of hay 1x a day, then letting the extent hay drain in a cool dry area (eg, shady side of barn?). Individually soaking 4 feedings for 2 horses is a LOT of extra work!
Unexplained body pain can be from sore footed horses trying to compensate. Usually this pain is in the hind end because it's the front hooves that are often worst.
You can add magnesium as outlined in our ER diet
until you have your hay mineral-balanced. The flax, salt and vit E will stay in their diet even after mineral balancing.
Kirsten and Shaku (IR + PPID) - 2019
Kitimat, BC, Canada
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