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  #1  
Old 03-02-2010, 03:00 PM United States
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feistychins feistychins is offline
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Default Feeding Horse Hay

Many years ago (even before I had chinchillas) I had a vet tell me not to feed 'horse hay' to my house bunnies. He said it was not good for them and to stick to the timothy hay and other grass hays.

I don't remember exactly why he said it was not good for them and I assume the same is true for chinchillas. I feed only Oxbow hays to my chins.

For my own knowledge, can anyone tell me why hay that is normally given to horses may not be good to give to your chin?
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:20 PM United States
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Horse-quality grass hays are safe for chins and other herbivores. Horses also have sensitive digestive tracts and shouldn't be fed the low quality hays that can be fed to ruminants such as cattle. If you need to buy hay by the bale, check out a local horse stable for your timothy or grass hay mix. It should be stored in a covered storage area, relatively free of weeds, not wet/moldy or overly dry, and free of fescue.
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:23 PM United States
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Did the vet mean that you shouldn't feed alfalfa to the bunnies? I agree with Sumiko - the hays that they feed to horses are generally good quality and safe for small animals. Horse people are pretty picky!
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:42 PM United States
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I know that horses and chins have very similar digestive tracts, so you would think that what is ok for a horse would be the same for the chins.

High quality hay is the only choice of course. Even horses can't get a large amount of Alfalfa, so maybe he was thinking that the hay given to horses was lower quality. I'm not really sure it has been so long since I was told this.

Someone (who has horses) recently mentioned to me that they give horse hay to their chin and I wanted to know for reference if it was ok.
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Old 03-02-2010, 06:59 PM United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feistychins View Post
I know that horses and chins have very similar digestive tracts, so you would think that what is ok for a horse would be the same for the chins.

High quality hay is the only choice of course. Even horses can't get a large amount of Alfalfa, so maybe he was thinking that the hay given to horses was lower quality. I'm not really sure it has been so long since I was told this.

Someone (who has horses) recently mentioned to me that they give horse hay to their chin and I wanted to know for reference if it was ok.
At the risk of derailing the thread, it depends on what you call a "large amount". Alfalfa probably shouldn't normally be free-fed to horses, since it is so rich in protein and energy. However, many people do feed straight alfalfa to their horses, particularly those which need a higher energy intake. A mature 1,100 lb. horse which is used only for light work will need about 16 lbs. of alfalfa per day, as compared to about 22 lbs. of timothy hay, in order to meet its dietary requirements. Horses can also be kept on an alfalfa pasture, as long as the horse is given time to adjust to the diet over the course of a few weeks.

My own horse eats only alfalfa hay as forage in the winter (largely because it's nearly impossible to find any type of grass hay besides brome in this area, and he refuses to eat brome -- he would prefer to starve). He gets about 20 lbs. of alfalfa per day and he does perfectly fine on it. At age 31, he is fat and healthy, and looks about 10 years younger than he is.

For the record, I have regularly fed horse hay (straight brome, or alfalfa/brome mix) to my rabbits. They've done well on it. As others have mentioned, good horse hay is generally very high-quality, and if it's suitable for a horse, it should be just fine for a rabbit or chinchilla (grass hay, that is).
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Old 03-02-2010, 07:06 PM United States
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I think that vet was uninformed. I bought a bale of hay at my feed store and my pita chins wouldnt eat it! so make sure they like it first.

wow 31 years old........that is awesome! you must be doing something right.
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Old 03-02-2010, 08:54 PM United States
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I grab my hay straight from the Barn, Chinchillas have very similar digestive tracts when compared to horses
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Old 03-03-2010, 03:41 PM United States
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I was always told that horse people are the fussiest when it comes to hay. I've been feeding horse hay for quite a while when it is fresh and nice and green. However, this time of year it is tough to find good hay so I broke down and bought some Oxbow hay the other day. Sure gets expensive buying bagged/boxed hay for a large amount of chinchillas
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  #9  
Old 03-03-2010, 04:44 PM
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This time of year and we've already stocked our barn for the winter. The horses have enough hay to make it until June. By then the hay for this coming season should be cut and ready to sell for decent prices.
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  #10  
Old 03-03-2010, 06:29 PM United States
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Ok, so the vet that told me this had no clue. Like I said this was many years ago and I have not seen him in almost that long. Good info to know.
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