What the Hay: Types of Horse Hay

Hay is hay, right? Actually, if you’re a horse, one type of hay can be as different from another as meat and vegetables are different for us. Some types of hay are much richer and better sources of nutrients and energy for hard keepers and hardworking horses, while others are more suitable for easy keepers and horses that live the more sedentary life of a pleasure horse. Here is everything you need to know about the types of hay, and how alfalfa, oat, and Bermuda hay are used in Sacate pelleted feeds.


Legumes aren’t really grass, but they tend to be richer than regular grass, and therefore an excellent feed for pregnant or nursing mares, young horses, those in hard work programs, and horses that are underweight or hard keepers. Typically the protein contents are higher, as well as specific nutrients such as calcium. The higher energy content can help a horse with high energy demands keep weight on their body, or allow a sick or underweight horse to pack on some pounds.

The most well known of legume hays is alfalfa hay, which is used in our Thorough-Bread, Standard-Bread, and Bermuda-Blend pelleted feeds, as well as our alfalfa cubes and A-OK Cubes. Another ingredient in our A-OK Cubes, oat hay, is less well known but another good option for horses who need the energy; however, it can also be higher in sugar, so avoid this type of hay if you have a horse with metabolic disease or insulin resistance.

Grass Hay

While legumes have their purpose, for most horses, grass hay is the ideal choice. Grass hay isn’t as high in protein or in energy, so it’s better for horses in light or moderate work programs, sedentary horses, or easy keepers. It’s also higher in fiber than legumes and less nutrient dense, so it makes horses eat more and stay fuller longer, mimicking their natural habits of grazing and helping to prevent boredom.

There are several different main forms of grass hay, depending on where in the country you are located. Here in the Southwest, Bermuda hay is commonly grown and readily accessible for our purposes, so you’ll find it in our Bermuda-Blend pelleted feed. This mix of alfalfa and Bermuda hay is less rich compared to our other feeds, making it a perfect option for horses in lighter work programs.

The Right Feed for Your Horse

Understanding the difference between alfalfa, oat, and grass hay such as Bermuda hay can help you make an educated decision about what to feed your horse. Talk to your vet about your horse’s work program and nutritional needs, and then you can start your search for a feed that will meet your horse’s needs. Sacate offers a variety of pelleted and cubed feeds, designed to offer both nutrition and convenience. For more information, contact us today.