Chaffs and grasses for horses and pets

Many horse owners feed chaffs and grasses as part of their horse’s ration, usually mixing them in the bucket along with the ‘hard’ feed (the coarse mix or cubes). They are often used to bulk up a small feed, to make a feed more appetising, to slow down a horse prone to rushing its feed or quite often, simply because it’s what everyone else on the yard does, and you’ve never really stopped to think about it. Chaffs and grasses are in fact, very useful feedstuffs to have in your feed room.

Why feed dried grasses

Dried grass products need no explanation. They do exactly what it says on the tin! Even opening the bag reminds you of long hot summer days and the sound of lawnmowers. The horse’s natural feed, it encourages virtually all horses to eat. It is a great source of digestible fibre and can be a great hay replacer for horses that struggle with hay or haylage.

What exactly is chaff?

Chaffs are not always quite so obvious. Chaff is short, chopped up straw that has been coated in either oil or molasses or a mixture of both to make it palatable to the horse. Many are flavoured, with apple or herbs, again to make them more palatable. You may be wondering why you should feed straw to your horse? Straw is mostly fibre, but not the readily digestible sort that you find in grass or hay. It is this fibre that is the attraction. In the bucket, it makes the horse spend time chewing properly, and so the horse is less likely to suffer from choke due to bolting its food. Chewing also produces saliva which is hugely important to a horse’s digestive system. Once swallowed the chaff continues to have an effect. The high levels of fibre in the chaff mean that the entire feed from the bucket passes more slowly through the horse’s digestive system, giving the nutrients much more time to be absorbed. Basically, adding chaff means that the horse gets more goodness from its food.

Some chaffs are made from other fodders than straw. For instance some are made from the stems of hay that are left after the seed has been taken to produce hay seed to be planted for future crops.

If you have any questions about your horse’s feeds, we are always happy to help.

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