Orchard Grass vs. Bermuda - option to free feed?

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by BuckskinDazzle, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. BuckskinDazzle

    BuckskinDazzle Full Member

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    When my boyfriend and I went up to Utah for the holidays, we were basically given six bales of orchard grass from his grandmother - a very generous gift considering the prices of hay where I live!

    From doing a wee bit of reading, it seems like it is in between bermuda and timothy as far as its nutrient profile? Is it typically a good quality hay to feed horses? I used to feed it to my rabbits, but since orchard grass is nearly impossible to get in AZ, I don't have much experience with it.

    Can it be free fed? Or is the only hay that should really be free fed going to be bermuda?

    Will I need to adjust how much ration balancer I am feeding if I add orchard grass to her diet? I fed her a bit of it, and she scarfed it right up. It gave her looser stools the first two days, and then everything went back to normal. I haven't increased the amount since - probably only a few pounds of it a day.
     






  2. Cheryl D

    Cheryl D Senior Member

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    We feed orchard grass or orchard alfalfa here in S California. Every horse that has been on bermuda has had colic episodes so we don't trust it. It is the first question asked at the equine clinic when they get a horse in...Is this horse eating bermuda grass. Anywhoot...some horses take awhile to acquire a taste for it as it does take them a bit longer to eat it. My horse eats from a hay net so I don't know about free feeding it.
     
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  3. BuckskinDazzle

    BuckskinDazzle Full Member

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    Gotcha, thank you for sharing your experience with it. Is anyone else aware if it can be free fed?
     
  4. sparkzwb

    sparkzwb Senior Member+

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    I feed a combination of Bermuda and Orchard. I have never had any issues. I can't free feed anything cuz I have air ferns!
     
  5. lhoward

    lhoward Senior Member+

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    There are a great many different bermuda grasses and hay. And most horses in the south east are on Bermuda.
    There is Coastal Bermuda, Alicia, Tifton 85, Tifton 9, Tifton 44, Bahia etc. They are all versions of Bermuda hay.
    Alicia is the kind that is usually VERY fine (and green) which is what you should stay away from. I feed coastal Bermuda or Tifton 85and make sure that the hay is not fine, but not stalky either, dust and mold free, smells sweet.
    I've seen horrible looking Timothy.
    I think you have to make sure its GOOD hay, whichever kind it is...
    My favorite would be GOOD Timothy, but its almost impossible to get here ($28 for square bale and up, not greatest quality either). So I make sure I CAREFULLY pick my bermuda hay.
     
  6. BuckskinDazzle

    BuckskinDazzle Full Member

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    We are paying about that much for timothy here in AZ. A lot of times we get great looking and smelling timothy (haven't had it analyzed, though) but this last cut looks more like straw. It's $26.95 for a 3-wire bale regardless. Hence, why I don't feed it. Maybe I will take a picture of my orchard hay. When it doubt on HGS, take a picture lol. I am learning a ton from these picture tutorials.

    I never knew there were so many types of Bermuda! I haven't a clue what kind ours is. No one has ever asked. Now I'm curious. Most people in AZ honestly have their horses on straight alfalfa, which horrifies me usually. It's the cheapest hay you can get here at $17.95/bale.
     
  7. Cheryl D

    Cheryl D Senior Member

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    Orchard hay is usually good hay. I rarely get a bad bale here in S. California. Now the Orchard/Alfalfa mixes can vary depending on the time of year. Yes, our bermuda in the West is not the best. Other states don't have the problems we do because of the type of bermuda they have. The only horse on it at our stables (out of 35) is an HYPP positive horse and she eats every meal out of a hay bag. Alfalfa is a widely used hay here too. Our hay right now runs 17.95-22.95 for alfalfa (grade changes price) 24.95 for orchard/alf and 23.95 for straight orchard. Bermuda is somewhere in between. Used to be bermuda was pretty cheap and people were willing to risk a colic but not anymore. All the hay has gone up unbelievably. I think if you free feed orchard it would be no different than free feeding any other type of grass hay...but may last longer cuz it's harder for them to eat...typically can't be bolted due to the coarse texture. You may not get a definitive answer as orchard isn't as widely used as other types of hay.
     
  8. JBandRio

    JBandRio Senior Member+

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    good OG is a very, very nice hay :) And as long as you don't have horses sensitive to sugars, or get fat, then absolutely you can free feed it.

    My usual hay farmer grows nothing but OG (though some fescue creeps in, it's just the way of things), and I put it out basically free choice in the Winter.
     
  9. prairiesongks

    prairiesongks Senior Member+

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    As with any hay, it depends on the area where it is grown, weather conditions, stage of growth when it was swathed and baled, and if was propeerly cured before baling. We don't have orchard grass here, but our prairie hay would be comparable.......some years it is excellent, other years it is not worth the fuel to haul it to the barn. IME, most grass hays can be feed free-choice unless the horse is an air-fern or has metabolic problems. Even though we raised alfalfa for years, and my SIL does now, I have never fed it free-choice.....for some horses, alfalfa causes them to become hot and being more nutrient dense than grass hay, our horses tend to become a little more pleasantly plump than I would like if I do not limit feed it.
     
  10. Heaven Sent

    Heaven Sent Senior Member

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    I free feed Orchard in large hole hay nets to my hard keepers. Never had a problem.
     






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