Hay vs. Haylage

I have recently changed from hay to haylage and my horse’s droppings have become much looser, why?

The most common reason for a horse’s droppings becoming looser is a sudden change in diet. Therefore, when moving your horse from hay to haylage it is important to do this slowly, this gives the bacteria in your horse’s hindgut a chance to adapt to the new forage.

Another potential reason for the change in the consistency of your horse’s droppings may be that you have inadvertently decreased the amount of dry matter your horse receives, particularly if the haylage is not available ad lib. This is because haylage tends to have a higher percentage of water, and a lower dry matter (DM) content, compared to hay. For example, if you were feeding 10kgs of hay with a DM of 89% your horse would have received 8.9kg of DM but switching to a haylage with a DM of 65% would mean that their DM intake is reduced to 6.5kgs. Horses require a DM intake of 1.5 – 2% of bodyweight (BW) per day and as haylage is usually wetter than hay, you typically need to feed more of it. Exactly how much more will depend on the water/ dry matter content of your individual haylage, this can be tested at a laboratory.

Finally, have a quick examination of the haylage you are feeding. Does it smell musty or vinegary, does it feel warm or are there any white mouldy patches? The horse’s digestive system is very sensitive and is easily disturbed if the haylage has not been made and stored correctly.


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Lorraine is an Equine Science graduate of University College Dublin. Lorraine began working with Connolly’s Red Mills in 2016 after spending a number ...

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Nia graduated from the University of Limerick in Equine Science, and since then, she has followed the path of equine nutrition and exercise physiology ...

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