Help with hay analysis


In trying to find some hay without a bunch of clover in it, I found a farmer with 35 bales of brome hay.  I ran a sample from 2 available bales over to a lab about 50 min. from me just to see if it was worth buying and sending a better sample to Equi Analytical.  This lab ran NIR,  but I did get them to do the ESC and starch wet chem.  (There was a diff of 1.2% in the esc)
My computer's down, so I'm using my husband's, and he's in the hospital so can't help me post the actual analysis, but here are some of  the numbers if someone could please see if this hay is worth buying. In the 2 bales I was able to access, the hay did not have seed heads. 
The s/s is very close to 10%, but I'm having a heck of a time finding any straight grass hay this year.
CP  -    8.10%                                             ESC  -  6.2%                                    RFV  - 87
ADF -  38.23%                                            starch  -  2.54%                             RFQ - 98
NDF -  63.09%
Nitrate -N   ppm 1                                     iron  209 ppm                                     
Laura K. Chappie & Beau
N.IL. 2011


Hi Laura,

I don’t have a lot of experience, but here are my thoughts.  I welcome corrections from the more knowlegable:


In terms of how the sugar / starch profile will impact insulin response, it’s useful to think of how much glucose or “glucose equivalents” will be provided by the hay.

Using info from Dr Kellon’s NRCPlus course, sucrose is the major sugar, starch is typically less than 2%, and actual glucose levels are very low for Grass Hay analyses.

Starch and plain glucose result in 100% glucose.  Sucrose is only 50% glucose (other 50% is fructose).  Glucose is what causes insulin to rise.


In a typical grass hay with sugar (ESC) 8.5% + starch 1.5% = 10%:

8.5% sugar = 4.25% glucose equivalents

1.5% starch = 1.5% glucose equivalents

Total = 4.25 + 1.5 = 5.75%


In your hay   ESC 6.2% + starch 2.54% =  8.74%

6.2% sugar = 3.1% glucose equivalents

2.54% starch = 2.54% glucose equivalents

Total = 3.1 + 2.54 = 5.64%


By comparison, this hay is essentially right at the 10% recommendation due to its higher than “normal” starch level.   Also remember you only sampled 2 of the bales….others may be higher or lower. 


How suitable this hay will be depends on many factors, some of which are: how sensitive your horses are to s/s, their degree of IR control, and how much exercise they get.

Starch is not removed by soaking, and I am not certain if the highish ADF/NDF will allow much of the sugar to be removed by soaking either.


The 209 ppm iron is on the high side, done by NIR (accuracy ?) Other considerations: iron status for iron overload, iron in water and supplements.


Palatability may be an issue when ADF / NDF approaches 40% / 60% (yours 38%/63%).  Would want to transition onto this slowly due to the high fibre.  (I like to present small amounts of both new and old hays and see which one is eaten first.  I know to expect trouble if it’s the year-old hay that is the one chosen!!)


The CP is good.   Of course, recommend doing proper sample protocol with EA before feeding.  With the difficulty you are having getting hay, you might consider this one if suitable, especially if you can mix it with another lower s/s or a lower iron hay, or use some beet pulp in the total diet.


So sorry to hear your husband is still hospitalized.   Hay problems can only be making things worse.  Since list etiquette frowns on just thank you messages, I want to add now how much your posts meant to me when we needed help in the past.  As well, I have always found your comments here to others are helpful and uplifting.


Eva and Mel

SW Ontario, March 2005 



To: EquineCushings@...
From: EquineCushings@...
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2014 09:21:14 -0700
Subject: [EquineCushings] Re: Help with hay analysis

Elva,  Thanks so much for your math formulas and comments on the hay.  I knew about the "starch is 100% glucose and esc is 50%",  but had never actually done the math.  You laid it out so clearly.   I've given them a little of this hay and they do eat it willingly.  They are not at all picky.  The farmer only has 30 -35 of these bales, so I think I'll get them and do a mix of hays at each feeding along with some ODTBCs and  bp.  And send it to Equi Analytical for accurate numbers.  It's interesting how adamant the woman at this lab was about how perfectly accurate the NIR at their lab is.  She obviously doesn't know the difference 1 % can make for our horses.  Thanks again for your help and kind comments.  I'm having trouble doing a "Yahoo" reply, so am trying a plain Hotmail reply. 

Laura K Chappie & Beau