What type of hay are you feeding your mini?

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Well-Known Member
Aug 30, 2005
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Curious what type of hay are you feeding your mini? I have been feeding alfalfa but wonder if I should switch to grass. I have my yearling on good grain and some beet pulp. I know with my big horses that grass hay will give them the hay belly..Goal is to show my little gal!

So, what hay are you feeding?
We feed grain to all, plus vitamin supplements.

We usually feed all grass hay. Because of the severe drought we are mixing alfalfa and grass as the alfalfa was much easier to purchase.

Alfalfa is a wierd topic. I have had 2 vets tell me to feed nothing but alfalfa but if you talk to any equine nutritionist they will tell you otherwise. One of our vets raises Hackney Ponies for driving. She feed all alfalfa.

I have been feeding grass hay to my minis every since she colic a few times on the course alfalfa hay...And what my vet told me....He said Grass is for horses and Alfalfa is for Cattle~!
See, that is what sparked my interest. I was always told Grass for mini's but then my mother was told when two of her horses got sick that to feed alfalfa but less of it. I'm like huh? but doing the alfalfa thing but would rather give my little gal more hay so if Grass was the better route then ok.

auledasacres said:
We feed grain to all, plus vitamin supplements.
We usually feed all grass hay.  Because of the severe drought we are mixing alfalfa and grass as the alfalfa was much easier to purchase. 

Alfalfa is a wierd topic.  I have had 2 vets tell me to feed nothing but alfalfa but if you talk to any equine nutritionist they will tell you otherwise. One of our vets raises Hackney Ponies for driving.  She feed all alfalfa.



...All grass hay here, as they do well on it, and I dont have to worry about the "colic factor," because the grass hay stem is much finer and softer than alfalfa..I like to primarily use burmuda, but I will give timothy grass hay as an occasional treat, as they love that too.
I feed grass hay to my minis and grass/alfalfa mix to the full-size horses (they will be getting the grass this winter as well - we put up lots of good grass hay this year). I like grass hay because it gives them plenty of much time. Alfalfa is a richer hay, so you feed less of it. If I fed my half-arab gelding the small amount of alfalfa it would take to give him what he needs nutrionally, he would be so bored that he would literally eat himself out of house and home (he chews wood when he's bored). Since, he's been on straight grass hay (plus his little bit of senior and sweet feed) he hasn't chewed on the rails in his corral.
I also feed grass hay to my horses. My personal opinion is that alfalfa hay is higher in protein than I would like my guys to be on. And after having an IR (insulin resistance) horse, I'm taking my horses off oat hay.

Here's one of my favorite websites that you might find useful:


Liz R.
I've come to the conclusion that it all depends on where you live.

Alfalfa in our area is SUPER hot stuff (24% PLUS protien) and would burn any kidneys. The best hay here is Orchard Grass. That's what many of the hay farmers grow in Central Oregon and the region is known for the quality. It ranges between 14 to 16%.

Now, if you go to the western side of our state of Oregon, grass hay is awful. The color and quality and protien is generally poor. So, to compensate, many horse breeders will either mix in locally grown alfalfa or feed all alfalfa. Western Oregon alfalfa tends to be close in protien to our area's grass hay!

Another example is Texas -- more exactly -- the hill country in Texas. Lots of folks there feed what is called "Coastal Hay". ICK. And we have friends down there that ask for some of our Orchard Grass hay so they can feed it to their minis AS A TREAT.

So, hay really does vary from area to area......

I have always fed a nice soft grass hay. I can increase and decrease with no serious after effects. They love it and I love giving it to them. Costs me $2/bale and this year I'll be putting up only about 150 bales for the year. Kids get feed am & pm also. They get hay year round am & pm. Less on summer and 4 times in winter.
Early grass hay here. Late grass hay (big stems) bloats the little ones right up.
Well one of the reasons for me switching from alfalfa to grass is this...For years I lived in AZ. at a boarding stable I did all the feeding and lived right on the premises, well we got the Best alfalfa available to feed the boarding horses and had a contract to get the Dairy Hay delivered... Well anyway to make this somewhat short My pet pony Josh I fed so VERY little of that hay I could not even feel the weight of the flake in other words I would Pull a flake apart and what did we call that a Whiff instead of a flake I fed a whiff of hay...He Foundered in both front feet..When I came back home to Wisc..That next winter Josh was in so much pain He could not even stand up~!
I had him at that time at my friends farm Dave, Who just happens to be also my vet friend~!!! He gave him some Bute a very little now mind you then in the spring I made a pen from him at my house and took him home...But was on R & R the rest of his life.....And I did not have to give him anymore Bute either...But both cofin bones had already rotated~! Now that was from that very very rich alfalfa that is grown in AZ. Testing as high as 28% protein way to high for my little 40 inch Shetland pony~!! Josh was in a stall by himself and I was the only person that fed him He received NO grain other then maybe a handful once in awhile as a treat So that founder was directly responsible for that pet pony of mine foundering.....And was backed up with my vet also~!
So no more Alfalfa at all for ANY horse,,, mini,,, donkey,, or equine,, that I may get in the future~! Only alfalfa I get will be fed to a steer that I raise every 2 years~!
There is no one answer. It depends on what else you are feeding and in what amounts. Not all grass hay is low in protien in fact some is higher then you would think and can be comparable to alfalfa hay.

Some will feed a low protien hay and then plenty of high protien concentrates

I personally feed my horses alfalfa and always have with no founder issues or anything else in fact they get about 1 flake a day each. I choose to feed them hay higher in protien and grains lower but again there is no one way
We feed grass hay here with alfalfa pellet and nutrient supplements.

We quit feeding alfalfa hay years ago when we were having colic issues with the miniatures. We switched to grass hay and have not had a case in over 8 years, knocking on wooden head.

On a side note, we never had trouble with alfalfa with our quarter horses.

We've never fed anything but 75% alfalfa since we've had minis but the winter before last 2 of the 38 we were feeding foundered on it so we got a timothy mix for last winters feeding for everyone. Didn't like it and the horses were not as shiny all winter plus we had to suppliment way to much to keep weight on them. The biggest drawback was they were pooping 3 times more when on that stuff compared to the alfalfa. For this winter the alfalfa bales big round ones are already in the barn and the mares eat it free choice as soon as they come of the fields at the end of the month. Yes everyone except the stallions and the 2 foundered mares get free choice alfalfa here always have and no they don't pig out but they do babysit the round bale in the feeder for the first week to make sure it doesn't run away. One big round lasts 6 days for 37 mares plus they get a small scoop of grain every evening. We very rarely have any colic in fact it's only been 2 mares that have been shown that have ever coliced on us and l put that down to all the bagged feed they get not the hay. Good alfalfa needs to be baled at the correct time in order for it to be soft and not coarse and stemmy. The barn smells wonderful since the hay came in last month. We only get first cut second cut is usually not as good where we are especially if it's a wet fall.

Alfalfa... some people swear by it

some people swear at it.
I feed a very good bermuda hay here, and I only give some (small amounts) of alfalfa to my show horses while showing.
Alot of this will depend on the type of hay available where you live. We live in Wisconsin and it is very hard to get GOOD quality grass hay! Almost everyone bales alfalfa. We were VERY lucky this year and got some WONDERFUL 4th cutting soft grass hay that is not stemmy at all. The horses love this hay and there is no waste at all.

It all depends on the haying season here. No matter what type we feed (depending on availability), we make sure it is not stemmy and tough. We try to get 2nd or 3rd cutting hay.

Here we sometimes have to feed what we can get--there is usually a lot of hay around, but finding hay which is suitable for horses isn't so easy. So many bale the hay tough & then it spoils
We prefer a good grass/alfalfa mix; for grass we like brome the best, but it's getting harder & harder to find. Prairie hay is the most common grass hay here, and so much of it the horses just don't like. Fescue or Kentucky bluegrass baled at the right time is good; timothy is generally too coarse here.

We've got a couple previously foundered horses that cannot have alfalfa; last year we got some 2nd cut irrigated timothy--looked like lovely hay, but it was far too rich; those foundered horses went lame on it.

This year we've been feeding a lot of 2nd cut alfalfa; it's the only really decent hay we've been able to get. A lot of people say alfalfa is terrible feed for horses, but honestly we've never had a problem with it. I can honestly say that we've never had a health problem in horses that we've fed on alfalfa--we used to always feed alfalfa or alfalfa mix, and we never had any colic in our horses. The last couple years ('03 & '04 ) we had almost exclusively grass hay, and that's when we were having colic problems. It's just too dry most of the time.
we feed alfalfa and have never had any problems. when my mare had colic surgery (when we were feeding grass hay) I was told to put her on alfalfa only. She never coliced again. They do drink more but that is a good thing! I think it is especially good for pregnant mares and young foals.

Also i dont understand when people say they feed grass hay with alfalfa pellets. Thats still alfalfa.

At least on this post no one is flaming anyone for feeding alfalfa LOL. Its normally a very hot topic
Tift 44 Coastal Bermuda, very nice hay from a wonderful man. I get it in 1,200# rolls and it smells like springtime! my horses love it. Never have liked any of the alfalfa available around here, when it is. The other hay of choice here is Bahaia (sp) and although it's good hay too when baled correctly, and the horses love it I do not buy it or any hay with even some in it, I do not want that stuff in my yard.