One of the questions we are used to hearing here at the Atascadero Hay and Feed, “I know what I am feeding my farm animals now is good, but what should I do that is better?”
Here on the Central Coast of California, it is November and the new grass is just beginning to sprout and grow. Most other areas are awaiting snow in North America, so this blog is specifically for animals that graze half the year here without good green fields to graze in and how to supplement their nutrition without causing digestive issues.
According to the USDA’s website, corn, barley, oats and sorghum are used as major feed grains in the U.S., with corn “accounting for more than 95 percent of total feed grain and production use.” In the U.S., 36 percent of corn crops being used to feed livestock.
For animal feed needs on the Central Coast of California, we carry 3 different basic types of hay: Grass, Legume and Grain.
Grass hays like our Timothy have a high fiber content and are low in protein and calcium. It is one of the most common hays fed to horses. Grass hays should be the main component in rabbit, chinchilla and guinea pig diets. The seed heads contain protein and the stems are an important source of roughage. Orchard grass and Bermuda grass are quite similar to Timothy, only they have slightly lower protein and fiber content.
Legume hays, like Alfalfa, have a higher protein content than grass hays, and should be fed to active, working, lactating, young or convalescing animals that have higher nutritional needs. It can also be used as a treat for adult animals. Most animals adore the taste of alfalfa hay, however it is too rich to use as the only daily hay for most adult animals. It should be fed in moderation, or fed as a blend with grass or grain hays. Alfalfa hay should never be fed to animals with urinary tract problems. Look for alfalfa with a bright color and fine leafy stems.
The grain hay varieties we regularly carry are Oat Hay and Forage Hay. Oat hay is cut before the grain is fully mature and makes for an excellent horse and cattle feed. When choosing grain hay you want to look for hay that still has some color, but isn’t so far along (mature) that the seed heads begin to shell out.
Here at Atascadero Hay and Feed we are very particular about the hay we sell. We work closely with our growers to ensure we are providing the best possible quality hay for your livestock feeding needs. Our staff is available to answer any questions you might have about the different varieties of hay we carry, and what hay would be best feed choice for your rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, sheep, goats, horses, cattle, llamas, alpacas and other exotic animals.
For any of your nutritional and supplement needs, we carry King, High Noon, O.H.Kruse, Purina Mills, Triple Crown, and Associated Feed & Supply Co. products and are open to ordering in anything else you would want or need. If you have any extra specific feed and nutritional questions, we have the most knowledgeable employees around!
At Atascadero Hay & Feed, we look forward to help you figure out what your animals’ best nutrition supplemental needs are and to providing them to you.