Forage is the Base of the Equine Diet

No horse can survive without forage and all horses must consume at least 1% but preferably at least 2% of their body weight every day. Forages come in many forms: cubed, chopped and long stemmed, which is the ideal way to feed. Horses need to chew forage for many reasons, including mental and behavioral health, dental health, increased saliva production to help prevent ulcers and most of all, excellent quality nutrition. The type of horse being fed will dictate which type of forage should be fed.  For example, a racehorse will require a forage of super high quality and high caloric density, while a Shetland pony needs a more fibrous, lower calorie forage.

Low Starch Low Sugar Forage

Western One is pleased to offer the most nutrient dense, high quality low starch and low sugar forages. Typically forages that are low in non structural carbohydrates also tend to be of low quality. Many are over mature, have been grown under stressful conditions and/or have been rained on. Forages harvested under these conditions can be low in non structural carbohydrates but also lack protein, vitamin and mineral content. Our low starch/sugar varieties of forage are clean, soft, palatable and nutritious therefor suitable for horses requiring the highest level of nutrient fortification. To view a Low Starch Low Sugar analysis, click here.

Stacks of all varieties are available now!


Orchard Grass




How to Read a Hay Analysis

The careful management of feed and hay selection can produce the type of performance output expected of an equine athlete. One of the best ways to evaluate your horses diet is to know what is in your hay. Also, very important knowledge for those horses with particular sensitivities such as laminitis or cushings disease. Our ability to buy large quantities allows us to identify each individual forage by location, pivot and farmer. Each pivot is tested by one of the top laboratories in the country. (Holmes Lab, Ohio or Dairy One, NY)

Crude protein (CP) – A measure of protein composition of the hay. CP can range from 8 to 14% in grass hays, 14 to 18% mixed hays and 15 to 20+ in legume hays. Most horses require at least 10% protein, lactating mares and foals require higher protein.

Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) – Composed of cellulose, lignin and other poorly digested components. Lower the ADF value the more digestible nutrients are in hay. 30-35% is good and values above 45% are of little nutritional value.

Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) – Measurement of the insoluble fiber. Higher the NDF the less a horse will consume. Horses will not eat anything above 65%.

Non-Structural Carbohydrates(NSC) – Total amount of sugar and starch. For horses that need low sugar/starch diet, the NSC should be no greater than 12%.

Relative Feed Value (RFV) – Commonly used when selecting dairy quality hay. An equine nutritionist will not use RFV as a guideline but 100 is considered an average.


Calcium to phosphorus ratio – These minerals are required in the diet by all horses in specific amounts and vary among different types of hay. Phosphorus levels should never exceed calcium, the ideal ratio 2:1 The level of calcium can be higher and still considered great.

Calcium to phosphorus ratio – Calcium should not be more than twice that of magnesium.

Iron, Zinc, Copper, and manganese – Ideal ratios:

  • Iron: Copper 4:1
  • Copper:Zinc:Manganese- 1:4:4

Equine Digestible energy
High quality forages should be in this range Mcal/lb

  • Legume 1.0-1.2
  • Mixed .95-1.0
  • Grass .90-.95


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