Orchard Grass, An Ideal Forage
Glance through the “farm and livestock” section of most classified advertisements, and you’re bound to come across listings for orchardgrass hay, and with those listings come varied expressions of praise: “perfect for horses,” “ideal horse hay,” “small animals can’t get enough”. Classified as a cool-season forage, orchardgrass is grown either in pure stands or with legumes, such as alfalfa (lucerne). Among grasses, orchardgrass does particularly well in mixed stands.
High-quality forage is critical for proper digestive function in horses and small animals. Forage (hay/pasture) makes up 60-100% of the diet for horses, and small animal, depending on their function and activity. For horses that are stalled, or for small animals that do not have an abundance of grass, stored forage in the form of hay is the primary source of forage. The most popular choices for grasses to be utilized by horses or small animal as forage are Timothy Grass and Orchard Grass, making them the two big forage kinds of grass.
Grass forage typically is quite a bit lower in protein than alfalfa; For many people who have horses, especially mature horses, non-working horses, or horses that are not used for breeding, grass forage is often preferred over alfalfa hay because of these lower protein and energy levels. Grass forage is also a good hay choice for “easy keepers,” meaning horses that easily gain weight or struggle to keep their weight down, especially ponies or miniature horses.
Small Animal Info
“As a source of fiber, well-made orchardgrass hay has a place in the diets of all types of horses. When it’s clean and sweet-smelling, its palatability is wonderful, and few horses refuse it,” said Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER). Because of its versatility, orchardgrass forage fits neatly into many feeding programs.