Feeding a highly digestible premium bagged hay like Chaffhaye can prevent many digestive issues while maintaining a healthy and balanced gastric microbiome.
Sponsored By Chaffhaye
How many hours do you spend at the rail watching other riders’ searching for clues to shave off tenths of a second?
Chances are you often watch replays of your runs to find room for improvement at the next event. Any competitive advantage can mean the difference between cashing in or leaving without a check — qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo or missing the cut.
Running styles, rider positions, genetics, and tack all contribute to a horse’s peak performance. But these only look at the “outside” of the horse thus missing the vital building blocks of success. Good nutrition is the critical foundation that supports all other aspects of developing and maintaining a high-performance horse.
Without the proper nutrients, horses can’t store or access the energy they need for high bursts of speed. Low-quality foodstuffs can disrupt a sensitive digestive tract and even the slightest discomfort can shift the mind’s focus.
“You can be an athlete, eat a burger and fries, and still go run. But you’ll feel crappy and will not likely run your best,” said equine nutritionist Laura White, PhD. “Horses are the same way. Except they can’t tell us when they’re not feeling well; we can only tell through their performance.”
Barrel racer Shelby Hicks experienced this first-hand with “Pony,” her 23-year-old champion barrel horse. When she first purchased Pony six years ago, he was a stereotypical hard keeper. He was prone to ulcers, tended to display behavioral issues, and had poor body condition. A friend suggested trying Chaffhaye.
Today, Hicks calls Pony an “easy-keeper.” Feeling his best has helped him achieve multiple accomplishments, including being named 2021 CRRA horse of the year along with lots of 1D wins, several arena records, and numerous championships. “He is happier overall and is much easier to maintain,” she said.
Easy to Digest
Colic and ulcers are every horse owner’s worst nightmare. Preventing both is a top priority, and the food a horse eats can influence its risk for both. Feeding a highly digestible forage like Chaffhaye can prevent many digestive issues while maintaining a healthy and balanced gastric microbiome.
Gastric ulcers are common in performance horses and are often brought on by long periods without feed, travel stress, stall confinement, and high-intensity workouts. Naturally high in calcium, alfalfa acts to buffer excessive acid in a horse’s stomach. By maintaining an optimal digestive pH through the reduction of stomach acid. Chaffhaye greatly aids in the prevention and management of ulcer-prone performance horses.
Chaffhaye’s in-bag fermentation “pre-digests” the alfalfa so it’s broken down by 50% compared to dried forage. The resulting product is transformed into a soft, easy to chew meal that is enriched by probiotics, yeast, enzymes, and microflora that are all a natural part of the digestive process. This “pre-digestion” allows a horse to absorb more feed nutrients in the foregut with less digesta spilling over to the hindgut. This is highly beneficial because overfill in the hindgut can lead to laminitis, colitis, gas colic, impaction, and many other digestive health issues.
Consistency You Can Count On
High-quality alfalfa is considered the gold standard in providing horses with an excellent energy source and abundant access to protein, calcium, and other nutrients beneficial to performance horses, lactating mares, growing foals, and hard keepers.
But even the best traditionally dried, baled alfalfa contains long stems and leaves. Plus, the natural drying process under strong sunlight diminishes the total nutrients available in any hay. Dubbed “pasture in a bag,” Chaffhaye is the freshest packaged hay product on the market.
“Pony was also really sensitive to hay from different people and different fields. Sometimes he would eat it, other times not,” Hicks said. She no longer worries about Pony’s finicky tastes. All Chaffhaye is grown on Non-GMO Project Verified farms across 5,000-acres in Dell City, Texas. The arid Texas desert tucked up near the New Mexico border is the ideal location for alfalfa—a crop that thrives in heat as long as it can be watered.
Chaffhaye farm manager MJ Alvord explained that the farm uses a combination of cutting-edge management practices to maximize nutrient content and consistency. For example, fields are strategically rotated to rest the soil and replace critical nutrients, and tillage is limited to cut down on the chances of disturbing important microorganisms in the soil. The farm also uses efficient watering techniques to limit water evaporation.
“After we cut the alfalfa, a machine with blades picks up a line of hay and chops it down into that 1″ to 1.5″ size you see in the bag,” Alvord said. “Then another machine blows the chopped hay into our haul trucks, and we send it right to the plant. Once it’s in the trucks, it never touches the ground again and can go from field to bag in just a few hours.”
Horses eating alfalfa can completely transition from baled to premium bagged hay in a day, according to White. For horses new to alfalfa, she recommends slowly introducing Chaffhaye. She suggests starting these horses with five pounds and gradually increasing to the horse’s complete ration during the transition.
Since Chaffhaye is bagged, it’s easier to transport, creates less mess, and reduces waste. The weatherproof bags are specifically engineered to extend the forage’s shelf life. Once a bag is opened and your feed ration removed, tightly close the bag, and store it in a cool dry area away from direct sunlight. It should remain fresh for 7-10 days. The Chaffhaye.com website provides helpful tips to store and feed Chaffhaye.
3 Myths About Premium Bagged Hay
Baled dry hay is the most common form of forage for horses in the US. White attributes this to abundant access to farmland as compared to other countries. But in Europe and Australia, it is far more common to feed a moist fermented hay product.
“The birthplace of horsemanship is in European countries, and they have traditionally used haylage,” White said. “So, we go back to the roots of horsemanship when feeding a premium bagged hay like Chaffhaye.”
Since feeding horses haylage is less common in the US, these are common myths to understand.
Myth #1 — Green = good. Brown = bad.
Fresh-cut alfalfa is green and moist, and in the US, that is considered the “standard of quality.” When you open a bag of Chaffhaye, don’t let its golden color fool you. The natural fermentation process within the bag has broken down plant matter similarly as if it were digesting in a horse’s cecum. This helps the horse absorb more nutrients from the pre-digested forage. By preserving more than 90% of the crop’s nutritional value, Chaffhaye maintains a higher feed value than dry hay.
Myth #2 —It’s High in Sugar
Chaffhaye is drizzled with two tablespoons of molasses, a sweetener that has gotten a bad rap in the horse industry for its sugar content. This ingredient has the opposite effect. It merely acts as a food source for the microscopic bacteria naturally found in fresh forage.
Once the bag is sealed, the beneficial bacteria begin anaerobic (oxygen-free) digestion. During this process the bacteria converts both the molasses and natural plant sugar into lactic acid. The result is lower sugar levels than those found in so-called “low sugar” commercial feeds, making it an excellent choice for those horses with metabolic issues.
Myth #3 — White Bloom is Mold
It’s not uncommon to see a big “white bloom” upon opening a bag of Chaffhaye. Some people assume this is mold. However, this is a live yeast culture, and it has been growing inside the bag to make digestion easier for your horse according to White.
Industry professionals are increasingly using yeast supplements to improve equine performance, especially when a horse is under stress due to situations of frequent travel or high activity.
Wetter is Better
Researchers continue to study the benefits of probiotics on a horse’s digestive system and there is still much to be learned. However, White can attest to the benefits of feeding hay with high moisture content. Bagged at 50+% moisture, Premium Bagged Hay from Chaffhaye aids in keeping the horse hydrated.
“Chaffhaye is as close to a natural feeding program as you can get in a bag. It is remarkable and one of a kind because it helps protect horses from many digestive issues, due to the physical composition of the alfalfa. Chaffhaye is wet, chopped to an ideal length, and most importantly, fermented in the bag to allow for increased nutrient utilization and decreased waste. All of which contribute to decreased incidences of choke, colic, ulcers, and other digestive issues plaguing performance horses.” she said. “
Twenty-five years ago, Chaffhaye was established to grow and package, dust-free, weed-free, premium grade forage. Today, Chaffhaye is committed to educating horse owners about the importance of proper gut health.
Go back to how nature intended – simple, natural, and extraordinary. When your horse feels better, it performs better.