Forage is the base of the equine diet.  No horse can survive without forage, and all horses must consume at least 1% but preferably at least 2% of their body weight every day.

Forages come in many forms: long stemmed, cubed pelleted and chopped, but the best way to feet it to horses is long stemmed.  Horses need to chew forage for many reasons, including mental and behavioral health, dental health, increased saliva production to help prevent ulcers and most of all, excellent quality nutrition. 

The type of horse being fed will dictate which type of forage should be used.  For example, a racehorse will require a forage of super high quality and high caloric density, while a Shetland pony needs a more fibrous, lower calorie forage.  Several varieties are available to choose from, and all of the following are suitable choices for most horses.

Best choice for working and producing animals: Orchard Grass 

Orchard grass  is a bunch-type, tall-growing, cool-season perennial grass. It is fast-growing and matures very early in the spring. In the vegetative (leafy) stage, orchard grass is a high-quality forage. Quality declines as the plants approach maturity. Therefore, to obtain high animal performance, harvesting at an early stage of maturity is most desirable. Orchard Grass is high in fiber and has a good level of protein, vitamins and minerals. 

Best Choice for your Easy Keepers: Timothy-Grass

Timothy-grass is an abundant perennial grass native to most of Europe. It is names after Timothy Hanson, a U.S. farmer and agriculturalist said to have introduced it from New England to the southern states in the early 18th century. Timothy hay is very palatable to horses if it is cut at an earlier stage of maturity.  Timothy hay is an excellent choice for all classes of horses, but especially those that require more fiber and lower calories and lower protein levels. 

Best Choice for Working, Breeding and Growing Horses: Alfalfa

Alfalfa is a perennial flowering plant in the pea family cultivated as an important forage crop in many countries around the world. Alfalfa is very palatable to horses and contains very high levels of protein, soluble fiber and calcium.  It is the best forage for working, breeding and growing horses.  It is very useful in the diet of horses that need superior levels of nutrients and high calories.