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Hay and Pasture Testing
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8/20/09 - Hay and Pasture Testing
I've been puzzling for a while over a few barns where I trim where, despite improving hoof form, horses still have some white line stretching and, in some cases, peeling outer hoof walls. Some of these horses are on a LOT of grass, but some are not. None are getting grain.
Then one of my clients decided to get her grass and hay tested. At about the same time I found this article by trimmer Pete Ramey, in which he talks about this very issue: http://www.hoofrehab.com/diet.htm
The basic problem is that even lush pasture and good hay can be deficient in certain minerals, which can affect hoof quality (among other things). The solution isn't to keep throwing more and more supplements at the horse (i.e., the infamous "hoof supplements," which I never recommend), but instead, to determine what the makeup of your hay and pasture actually IS and then supplement only what is truly needed. In some cases, you may find that your pasture/hay is providing too MUCH of certain minerals as well.
Here it a great place to get your hay/pasture tested: http://www.equi-analytical.com/
Click on SERVICES and then standard analytical services. I recommend the (601) Equi-Tech testing at $26 a sample. It's important to get both your pasture AND your hay analyzed, and you will need to repeat the hay testing whenever you get a new batch. Instructions for how to prepare and mail the sample are on the website.
I really do think this should be something everyone does, even if you are not having problems. But if your horse has ever foundered, is insulin resistant, has poor hoof wall quality, or has any other issues, it is really important to get the testing done.
Doing the pasture testing is fairly straightforward (but it's important to follow the instructions precisely). To do the hay testing, you need a hay probe -- samples must be taken from many bales, and they must be core samples--not just a few pieces of hay off the outside of the bale. I have ordered a probe for myself and will use it to test my own hay as well as clients' hay. I'm hoping that folks will send me their results so I can compile some information as well as helping people figure out what to supplement. In the Ramey article, he suggests joining the Cushings yahoo group for help, and I am already on that, so I will post my own results there as soon as I have them.
This is the hay probe I ordered. It fits on a drill and is the least expensive one I found that will do a good job: Penn State Forage Sampler
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, Sep 25 2009, 4:02 PM EDT
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