Reducing your grain requirements/cost through more digestible nutrients in your hay
Many horse owners we have worked with had believed they needed to feed good amounts of starch rich cereal grains to supply the needed energy for their horses to perform their work. However, many of them realized their horses should have more grass and hay, and less grain. Grass and hay are digested in the large intestine to produce ideal slow release energy. However, grain does not digest well in the the large intestine, leading to physical problems. And of course, grain feed can cost 2-3 times the amount of a high quality hay.
They obtained our TIFTON 85 as the solution: a very high energy, low risk Bermuda grass hay. We are utilizing extensive irrigation and fertilization, which helps boost the already high quality, highly digestible TIFTON 85 to nutrient numbers of 62-66% total digestible nutrients (TDN), 14-17% crude protein, and other high nutrients, which are higher than that of coastal, and similar to the nutrients of a good alfalfa. (Test results will be provided upon request.) The TIFTON 85 is at least 11 units higher in digestibility than coastal (mainly due to the lignin binding the cellulose more loosely, making it more digestible to the horses), and several units higher in crude protein than coastal. This higher digestibility enables horses to retain a larger amount of the already high nutrients in the hay.
To demonstrate an example of how the higher digestible nutrients can also provide an overall cost savings, a 1200 lb horse doing about an hour of work per day, requires about 24 lbs of hay per day. This horse, according to the National Research Council requirements, requires 22.4 Mcal of digestible energy (TDN), and 895 grams of crude protein, per day. We will assume the best coastal will cost $8.00 per 60lb bale, (not including delivery), and have 11% crude protein, and 51% digestibility, which calculates to 606 grams of crude protein per day. So that, of course is 289 grams short of the 895 grams requirement, and would need to be obtained from 6.4 lbs of a good grain costing $2.31 per day per horse. The additional grain also helps satisfy other nutrient requirements. Therefore, the total price per day for the grain and coastal hay is $5.51.
Alternatively, our TIFTON 85 hay, costing $9.00 per 60lb bale (not including delivery), usually includes at least 14.7% crude protein, and 62% digestibility, which translates to 984 grams of crude protein, easily satisfying the 895 grams requirement. So for just crude protein, there is no need to supplement with grain. For this type of horse we did supplement 1.24 lbs of grain to satisfy only the phosphorus requirement. The total price per day for the grain and TIFTON 85 hay is $4.05. Therefore, the savings of feeding the TIFTON 85 over the coastal to 1 horse is $1.46 per day ($5.51 – $4.05). Let’s say there are 30 horses. The amount saved per month is $1,314 ($1.46 savings X 30 horses X 30 days).