Our guides to what to feed your animals
Like us humans, animals need to be given the right food in order to stay fit and healthy. We’ve produced feeding, forage and bedding guides for horses and rabbits
to guide you.
Click on one of the animals below to see our feeding advice.
What to look for to ensure you feed your horse quality hay
Grass, hay and haylage are the most common types of forage used for horses in the UK. Horses don’t have a large intestine designed to digest fibre like many large animals, such as cattle. In fact, their stomachs and intestines are relatively small. Therefore, it is important a horse’s diet includes a good quality hay that is easily digestible. Hay quality can vary each year from region to region and even from field to field. There are a huge number of factors that come into play such as what is that hay made from, how it is made and how it is stored. All these factors will determine the overall quality. At Top Quality Hay, we use the best possible meadow or seeds grass and harvest when the grass has plenty of leaf matter and weather conditions are just right to ensure that you get the best possible product. We store our hay in weatherproof barns so no danger of damp and mould. Good hay should be visibly clean and free from dust and mould plus feel soft to the touch and not course like straw.
How can you tell whether hay is good quality? Follow our eight-point guide to find out what makes good hay for horses:
The adage “make hay while the sun shines” is completely true. Hay can be easily ruined if it gets wet. Farmers must take advantage of hot, dry, sunny weather to cut and gather hay. Hay that lies cut in a field for a long period of time, particularly if it rains during harvest, leads to mould and/or spores forming that will irritate your horse. We always harvest our hay when the grass has plenty of leaf matter and a prolonged spell of fine sunny weather is forecast.
The hay should be harvested at the right stage to ensure a good leaf to stem ratio. Sugars and nutrients are contained within the leaf matter and fibre within the stems. We have over 50 years experience of cutting grass at the right stage of growth to ensure a premium product.
Although a bale of hay is often a very light greenish colour on the outside, when you break open a bale of hay it should be green in appearance. It should never be brown and definitely not dark brown. If it appears a brown colour it is likely to have been baled before it was dry enough, hay that is baled when it is wet often overheats and discolours.
The hay should be dry. If it feels damp and warm then it is likely that it was baled before it was dry enough. This can lead to overheating and the formation of moulds and spore that will be bad for your horse. We ensure we dry the hay in the field by tedding it enough times then baling it correctly.
Good hay often smells slightly sweet and it should certainly not smell ‘musty’. If it does, it’s a sign that it was not dry enough when baled or not stored correctly.
The hay you feed your horses should be visibly clean and free from dust and mould. Dust at high levels can irritate the respiratory tract of horses. Excessive dust is a sign that it is either several years old or it was too dry when baled as the leaf matter breaks apart forming small fragments of dust.
Hay for your horses needs to be stored correctly in an airy barn with good ventilation. Our new Band-IT packs are stacked in our modern barn protected from rain and the elements with airways between the packs ensuring they get plenty of ventilation and allowing them to ‘breathe’.
The hay you feed your horses should be free from poisonous weeds, such as ragwort, and other contamination like mud, rodents or insects or general
rubbish. We tend to our crop throughout the year to make sure we sell a pure, premium product.
Why you should be feeding 90% hay to your rabbits
Food plays a really important part in a rabbit’s health and wellbeing. The wrong diet can cause all sorts of health problems, such as dental issues and obesity. Rabbits need at least one bundle of good quality hay that’s as big as they are every day!
The best diet for your rabbit is one that is as close as possible to a wild rabbits diet; 90% high-quality feeding hay or grass and a small amount of pellet-style rabbit food and fresh vegetables (PDSA, 2018). This means the average domestic rabbit should be eating approximately 1kg of hay every week. Rabbits can be fussy about the hay fed to them. Old or poor-quality hay and some pre-packaged pet shop hay can be quite dusty, brown and generally unappetising. At topqualityhay.co.uk we specialise in fresh, non-dusty, nutritious hay that smells appetising and that rabbits love.
There are a variety of rabbit bedding available on the market from wood shavings to straw. Bedding should be safe to eat and our dust free straw makes a warm and safe comfortable bedding for your bunnies. Customers can pick up straw and hay at the same time meaning their rabbits bedding and food is sorted in one trip.