The Scoop on Forage Pellets for Horses
Are you curious about forage pellets? What are they, how are they made, how do you feed them, and which horses potentially may benefit from consuming forage pellets?
The following is the scoop on Standlee forage pellets.
The Making of a Pellet
Forage pellets consist of dried forage, such as alfalfa and grasses, that are formed into 0.25" wide x 0.75 – 1.25" long pieces. To make a pellet, Standlee forage first grows the forage plant to the proper maturity stage, then cuts, dries, and bales the forage into conventional bales for storage. The forage is stored to prevent any damage or bleaching associated with exposure of the forge to sun or inclement weather. Throughout the year, this baled forage is ground, mixed with steam, and pushed through a dye with pressure to form the pellet. Once made, pellets are dried to a moisture level that allows proper storage. Standlee currently manufactures Alfalfa Pellets, Organic Alfalfa Pellets, Alfalfa Timothy Pellets, Orchard Grass Pellets, Certified Timothy Grass Pellets, and Teff Grass Pellets.
The mechanical process of making a forage pellet does not change the digestibility of the forage. Therefore, the digestibility of a bale of high-quality alfalfa is the same as a pellet made with the same high-quality alfalfa. When replacing long-stem baled hay with forage pellets, you would replace one pound of hay with one pound of forage pellets. A common occurrence reported by horse owners is less waste associated with feeding pellets than feeding long-stem baled forage.
To swallow and digest a forage pellet, the horse must properly chew the pellet. If the pellet is not properly chewed, the horse can potentially choke. We recommended to soak the pellets in water prior to feeding them. To properly soak forage pellets, the pellets should be submerged in water for 30-60 minutes prior to feeding. This will soften the pellets until they dissolve into an easy-to-swallow forage slurry.
Types of Horses that Benefit from Forage Pellets
High-quality forage pellets can benefit many types of horses. First, any horse with chewing difficulty due to poor or missing teeth can benefit from soaked forage pellets. The soaked forage pellets provide the fiber that is short in length and easy to swallow for horses with dental issues. Underweight horses are also good candidates for forage pellets. The high-quality forage utilized to make Standlee pellets will provide an elevated calorie intake compared to most local hay sources. Alfalfa Pellets are a good choice for performance horses since they provide needed protein for muscle and bone development and repair. Also, the calcium in Alfalfa Pellets is a buffer of stomach acid, potentially reducing the occurrence of gastric ulcers in performance horses. Teff Grass Pellets and even Alfalfa Pellets are excellent choices for horses that may be sensitive to the sugar/starch content of the diet since both forages are naturally low in sugar and starch. Finally, forage pellets can be fed to all types of horses when baled hay is in short supply or when the quality of local hay is marginal.
Replacing all or part of the baled hay with forage pellets will provide high-quality, nutrient-rich forage. Simply replacing 1 pound of baled hay with 1 pound of forage pellets will boost forage quality and nutrient intake.
Read our blog post on hay cubes - The Scoop on Hay Cubes for Horses.