What Is A Good Alternative To Hay In Winter?
Due to the lack of rain in alaska, good hay is not available in our area. What can I get to supplement?
You are right not to be tempted just to feed an all-concentrate diet. It is definitely worth remembering that a diet without roughage can be detrimental to the horse. A constant fiber source is needed to maintain the "good" bacteria in the horse’s hindgut which break down plant fibers to provide energy for the horse. The bulk provided by fiber also keeps the horse’s digestive tract functioning smoothly thereby decreasing the incidence of colic.
The good news is that there are alternatives to hay when it is in short supply, but these should not be chosen when hay is available. You can buy pelleted complete feeds which contain ground hay (usually alfalfa ) combined in the pellet. They increase the fiber content of the diet but do not provide the bulk necessary to keep the horse’s digestive tract functioning smoothly. Alfalfa cubes are similar to complete feeds but are made of long fiber hay and therefore provide much needed bulk in the intestines. Corn silage and haylage can be fed to horses but can result in digestive problems because of the possible presence of molds and other toxic substance, so only highest quality silage or haylage should be fed.