Hay Stretcher or Hay Replacer?
Pros and Cons
Several feed companies offer hay pellets or cubes, or what they call hay stretchers, a combination of hay and grain byproducts.
Feeding hay pellets is a way to extend the winter hay supply. Fed in combination with or in place of hay the pellets provide the horse with added fiber and nutrients. Pellets generally are less wasteful than baled or loose hay which some horses scatter on the ground then walk on it. Hay pellets or cubes are useful to provide forage to older horses that have trouble chewing. Pellets and cubes also have less dust or mold than baled hay.
On the on con side of feeding pellets is they are usually more expensive, and they do not have as much water content as regular hay. For that reason it is important that horses being fed hay pellets or cubes have access to plenty of drinking water.
Stretcher or Replacer
Hay stretchers are not to be confused with hay pellets. Stretchers or extenders often do not contain any hay at all, but other types of fiber such as grain hulls and peanut shells. Thee products should not be used in place of hay, but can replace up to 50% of the hay ration.
Blue Seal offers Hay Stretcher, a large pellet designed to replace half the hay ration. Ingredients are Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Wheat Middlings, Oat Mill By-Product, Soybean Hulls, Cane Molasses, and Calcium Carbonate. It is not fortified with vitamins or minerals so should not be used a grain substitute. It is sold in fifty-pound bags.
Purina Mills sells horse Chow 100 and 200, which are complete feeds with grain and hay all in one pellet.
Southern States offers Triple Crown Safe Starch Forage, a complete feed made of grass hay with vitamins and minerals. This product is specially selected for low NSC levels and has no molasses or grain.
On the other hand, Southern State’s Triple Crown Premium Chopped Alfalfa Forage is made from alfalfa, cane molasses, vegetable Oil, and proprionic acid, and Triple Crown Premium Chopped Timothy Forage contains timothy and orchard grass hay, Triple Crown Premium Forage Cubes Alfalfa or Triple Crown Alfalfa / Timothy mix all can replace 100% of hay ration.
Whatever feed company you choose be sure to read the nutrition tag and text on the bag to learn if the content is a hay replacer or hay stretcher. Please share with us in the comments box your experience using hay pellets, cubes or hay stretchers.
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