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Discussion on Bluestem Grass Hay - nutritional value

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Lilo
Member
Username: Lilo

Post Number: 267
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Friday, Jul 21, 2006 - 12:30 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello all,

Grass hay is mighty scarce in Colorado this year, and very expensive.

I have found a source for Bluestem Grass Hay from Kansas, but cannot find any information about nutritional value (compared to Timothy, for instance). Does anyone have experience with feeding this hay to horses?

Thanks in advance for any information, good or bad, you might have.

Lilo
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 16213
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Jul 23, 2006 - 7:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lilo, I have not heard of Bluestem grass, that sounds like a brand rather than a specie of grass. Can you find out the type of grass this is? Of course with any grass forage the quality is often more important than the variety when it comes to nutrient values.
DrO
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Lilo
Member
Username: Lilo

Post Number: 268
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Monday, Jul 24, 2006 - 9:41 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

DrO,

Wanda and I researched bluestem grass on the web. It is a native prairie grass - but there apparently are two varieties (a shorter on and a longer one). The comments we found are that it is palatable, but not much on protein content. I believe it is low, remember seeing something like 8%. Unfortunately, most comments we saw had to do with feed suitable for cattle. I was hoping someone on this board might have some first hand experience in using it for horses as a hay.

Also learned that it is a bunch grass, and recommended for controlling erosion - many of the sites offer seeds.

My horses typically get mountain timothy, which is often quite mature when cut for hay. They have done well on that so far - but, this year hay prices are very high here in Colorado, and I am exploring all options.

Thanks for responding - I do not know anything about how the hay was harvested. I had a bad experience last winter, when between 18 and 20 bales of hay went moldy on me. They were barn stored, but, apparently there was some moisture left in them and they were packed to tightly.
Lilo
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Chris Doyle
Member
Username: Christel

Post Number: 138
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Monday, Jul 24, 2006 - 10:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Bluestem is used alot here in my part of the world for crp land- land that is taken out of farming and put in reserve.
It is a clumpy grass and horrible stuff if it manages to get in a lawn- which thanks to so much crp in the area it has managed to get in everyones lawns. I have always heard it was not very nutritional.
I would not want my horses to graze pastures that had much bluestem in it, only because it is so clumpy and makes the footing very unpredictable.
I would think tho it would make a decent hay for horses that are mature, maintaining and not growing or used for breeding purposes.
My husband has an old college book on feeds and feeding of livestock, I will try to find it and look up just exactly what it does have protein wise- might take a while to find that book.
Lilo I feel for you, we are having a heck of time finding decent hay here also, and when you do find it, it is very expensive. I am thankful I have a hay guy 45 miles from me and he is taking care of his regulars- he could sell all his hay down south and make more money but he has chosen to take care of us first- great guy!!
Chris
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Lilo
Member
Username: Lilo

Post Number: 269
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Monday, Jul 24, 2006 - 5:34 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Chris - Thanks so much for your response. I see from your profile that you are in Texas. You are lucky to have someone who takes care of your hay needs.

I would like to know what you find in that college book. I am debating if I should pick up a few bales and see what it looks like and if the horses even eat it. My mare can be kind of particular!

Thanks again - you are the first one to have some hands-on experience with bluestem hay.

Lilo
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 16228
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Jul 25, 2006 - 7:12 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks for the heads-up on blue stem grass and would like any other information you get. Most easy keeping horses that are not working will be able to compensate the lower nutrient density by simply increasing the amount consumed if it is offered free choice.

To avoid a big hay belly or to provide supplemental energy for work and protein, alfalfa cubes are generally available everywhere at the feed store. For more on this see Care for Horses » Nutrition » Equine Nutrition an Overview of Feeding Horses.
DrO
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Holly Wood
Member
Username: Hwood

Post Number: 1299
Registered: 3-2001
Posted on Tuesday, Jul 25, 2006 - 8:59 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

My horses have been in KS since last August, and they are quite a bit thinner than I like them . . . I don't like to see ribs. They are obviously not getting enough calories, so I am hurrying to get them here to the farm so I can manage them more carefully. We had to order our hay from local growers here in KS while we were still in CA, and from what I understand, it was "prairie grass." My friends in CO told me that prairie grass is VERY LOW in protien . . . my horses haven't done well on it. I will supplement with alfalfa cubes or pellets in addition to the hay. We have just had some brome delivered . . . It's not what I'm used to feeding, either, but with some supplementation, I hope to have my horses back on track in the next few months.
Lilo, my friends in CO (Elizabeth) get an 18-wheeler load of alfalfa/grass mix hay from their grower in WY every two weeks. They are selling it out of their barn as well as feeding it to their horses. It's good stuff. If it's not too far for you to go to pick up, I can give you their phone number.
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Wanda Martinez
Member
Username: Sonoita

Post Number: 46
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Jul 25, 2006 - 10:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hay Holly,
Wanda here, Elizabeth is not that far about 20 minutes. So if you will give Lilo the name and number and she or I will check it out. I got hay in June and got alf mix at $7.50 a bale but Lilo does'nt want alf. So any help would be great.
Happy Trials,
PS we live in the same subdivision.
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Chris Doyle
Member
Username: Christel

Post Number: 139
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Jul 25, 2006 - 10:32 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lilo, no luck on the book, no mention of bluestem. I will call my extension agent tho and see if he knows anything.
I have not personally fed it myself, just know what it is. I would assume horses like it, as I dont have any in my over grazed pastures, but it is in places near them, so I figure the horses must eat it or I would find it in my pastures- blonde intuition- not science-lol.
Do you have a testing lab you could send a sample to have it tested for nutritional content?
In a pinch I would think it would work, I personally would select the blue stem hay, say, over cane hay if I was in that situation.
I will do some more checking and get back. Sounds like Holly has it figured out- hopefully you are close enough to her contact you can get some decent hay from them.
Chris

I paid my first $3 a gallon for diesel the other day- man that hurt- figure all hay is going to go up in price this year.
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Holly Wood
Member
Username: Hwood

Post Number: 1300
Registered: 3-2001
Posted on Tuesday, Jul 25, 2006 - 11:03 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Maybe Rick and Lise (pronounced "Lee-sa") can give you a lead on straight grass hay. For now, I think they only have the mix. The bales are good-sized and they are priced at either $7.25 or $7.50. I don't think they deliver, but you can ask them. As far as I know, they will help stack it on your truck.
I haven't heard back from Lilo, so I will give you their number: R & L Farms - 303-805-0448
The Hall Family on Hilltop Road in Elizabeth, also had hay, and there was no alfalfa. I don't know if they have it this year, but you can call to check. Gary Hall was the person I got it from: Hallcrest Farm - 303-646-4626. The bales were lighter, and I wasn't impressed with the overall quality (weeds mixed in with the brome), but it was dry and the price was right. I supplemented my horses with grain pellets, and they always looked good and had plenty of energy.
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Chris Doyle
Member
Username: Christel

Post Number: 140
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Jul 25, 2006 - 11:24 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well, wouldn't you know it. I have called extension agents in 3 different counties- they are all 'out of town' at a conference-be back monday. One secretary is looking for me and I am googling on it now too. Hopefully will find some info on it soon.
One website I have visited said to not get hay that is from very mature plants, as it is tough and horses wont eat it-
Enquiring minds want to know- now I am wanting to know- and I will probably never use it, but gotta know now-curiousity is getting the best of me.
Chris
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Lilo
Member
Username: Lilo

Post Number: 270
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Jul 25, 2006 - 1:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello all,
Thanks so much for the information. I normally don't pick up hay, but this year I might have to. Fortunately I know a neighbor boy who would help me load and stack. However, I would not want more than 10% alfalfa in my mix - my horses don't work hard enough.
While we are on the topic, I am hoping that Chris can find out something about the bluestem grass hay - if it is favorable, it might still be something to consider.
Thanks again,
Lilo
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Wanda Martinez
Member
Username: Sonoita

Post Number: 47
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Jul 26, 2006 - 9:22 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Holly,
Did you used to live in Colorado? How do you know Rick and Lisa? Polo?
I used to live in the Parker , Elizabeth area. Now I live in Sedalia.
Just curious.
Happy Trails,
Wanda
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Holly Wood
Member
Username: Hwood

Post Number: 1302
Registered: 3-2001
Posted on Wednesday, Jul 26, 2006 - 8:59 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Wanda, I lived with and rode for and worked for Rick and Lise right after they bought the farm. I love them and had an absolutely wonderful time with them. During the time there, I met my husband who is from CA . . . so moved to CA after being hired as a ranch manager for a land-wealthy foreigner who knows absolutely nothing about horses and couldn't seem to afford to pay me on time or provide the things necessary to run a safe, professional equine program . . . so I moved off the ranch to my husbands house, but not before we bought affordable property (CA is NOT affordable) for our horses and horse business. That's why I'm now in Kansas . . . and we are very happy to be within a day's driving to Elizabeth and to my best friend who lives in Parker . . . in a nutshell. Just stayed with Rick and Lise on the way here two weeks ago (that's how I know they have hay)and am going back there next month for a few days.
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Karen Trojnar
Member
Username: Karent

Post Number: 13
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Jul 26, 2006 - 11:50 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lilo,

I live in Taos in Northern New Mexico. I was able to find good grass hay in Southern Colorado. The hay is a mixture of timothy, broome and clover grass. I gave my horses a sample of it and they loved it.

These are the 1500lb round bales and are kind of a pain, but the hay is really nice. The guy I bought it from charged us $75.00 per bale which I thought was reasonable.

We had to rent a flat bed trailer and make a few trips, but it was well worth it. We bought 12 bales. I am saving it for winter as we have plenty of pasture for grazing at this time of year.

We are lucky because our land is in a marshy area and there is always about a 1/8" of water on the ground at all times in the majority of our pasture which keeps the grass growing.
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Lilo
Member
Username: Lilo

Post Number: 277
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 1, 2006 - 10:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello all,

Thanks again for all your feedback and ideas. I contacted my "old" supplier, and he is getting in mountain hay, so I should get a delivery before the end of August. The price is not too outrageous, and I am relieved that I have the hay delivery organized.

Lilo
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Chris Doyle
Member
Username: Christel

Post Number: 151
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 2, 2006 - 12:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lilo, my county extension office finally called me today on the blue stem.
They contacted the forage specialist at Tx A&M, he said it depended on where you got it, how it was managed, when bailed, etc.. If the blue stem is from a crp (crop reserve program) field, the protein would be less than 6%, and TDN less than 55 %.
Sorry so late in getting back to you, sounds like you have a better hay coming anyhow.
Chris
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Lilo
Member
Username: Lilo

Post Number: 278
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 2, 2006 - 10:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the information. It may help someone else on the board. I do appreciate all the replies, because I might have had to follow up on them. Especially on the contact that Holly provided - it is always good to have alternatives.

Thanks again to all,
Lilo
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