Can you advise me about baling wheat just as it
is about to head out? Would you know if a person could feed that
to horses, if it would be harmful to them in any way?
Also, what mix of seed would be ideal for a hay crop for horses.
And what do you recommend planted as far as pounds per acre?
Finally, where would a person find a picture description of the
particular grasses that usually are found in hay—such as
timothy, brome, etc.?
Any help you can offer with these questions is greatly appreciated.
Thanks for considering New Farm as a source of information on
your agricultural questions. I’ll try to address each of
your concerns, but please realize the answers are complex. I’m
not sure where you are located, so my responses will reflect what
works here in southeastern Pennylvania; things could vary in other
regions in terms of crop selection and weather patterns.
Baling wheat in head
– Typically we do this with rye, not wheat, and it is used
as a bedding material, not for feed. Wheat has a higher value
as a grain crop than rye. The “bleached rye” straw
makes for nice bright bedding material for horses or dairy cows.
Horses are generally fussy about what they eat. I would say that
too much wheat will give the horses stomach problems; a call to
a local veterinarian or your state university equine center will
give you the best advice on that.
Hay for horses –
Here we plant a mixture of alfalfa and timothy or alfalfa and
orchard grass as hay for horses or dairy cows. Most buyers are
much more concerned with quality—the timing of the cutting,
the amount of rain that hit the hay once it was cut, the amount
of weeds in the hay, the color and smell of the hay, etc.—than
they are with the percentage of legumes and grass in the hay.
I would stay away from the clovers, since they can be harder for
the fussy stomachs of horses.
Hay seeding rates
– Here again, the standard rates listed for the various
hay crops in your state’s agronomy guide for conventional
farmers will work for you as well. Keep in mind, if you are starting
hay organically, that you need to pay close attention to the timing
of your planting. And I recommend the use of a nurse crop, such
as a small grain, to help establish the hay, since the support
of herbicides to control early weeds will not be available to
Picture I.D. –
I don’t have one particular source that I consider best,
but Purdue University has a very good forage page (www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/forageid.htm)
that has nice photos and written descriptions of many hay and
Hope this helps.
Have some questions to Ask Jeff? E-mail him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.