Skip to content

Other Resources

Standlee Barn Bulletin

The Standlee Barn Bulletin is your source for insightful articles about premium western forage and beyond.

The Scoop on Forage Pellets for Horses

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?

How Standlee Makes Pellets

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.

Benefits of Feeding Pellets

Hay pellets can be used effectively as the sole source of roughage for all classes of horses. They are a great solution when soaked for horses who struggle to chew, need additional hydration, or mixing in medication or vitamins into their diet. They make travel easy and mess-free.

Frequently Asked Questions About Forage Pellets

Are pellets good for horses?

When compared to long-stem forage and even hay cubes, hay pellets are less dusty, which can reduce the risk of respiratory irritation, thus promoting respiratory health. Senior horses that have more complicated dental problems or greatly reduced chewing ability may benefit from the feeding of hay pellets.

Are pellets better than hay for horses?

A 1991 study compared horses that were fed long-stem alfalfa hay vs alfalfa pellets. The study showed there was no differences in digestibility for energy, protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and the trace minerals copper, zinc and manganese.

How to Feed 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.

Standlee Forage Pellets

Types of Horses that Benefit from Forage Pellets

High-quality forage pellets can benefit many types of horses.

Poor Dentition

First, any horse that is having difficulty chewing due to poor or missing teeth can benefit from soaked forage pellets. The soaked forage pellet provides fiber that is shorter in length and easy to swallow for horses with dental issues.

Underweight Horses

Horses that are underweight are also good candidates for forage pellets. The high-quality forage utilized to make Standlee Premium Western Forage pellets will provide an elevated calorie intake compared to most local hay sources.

Performance Horses

For horses with a higher activity level, alfalfa pellets are a good choice since they provide the protein needed for muscle and bone development and repair.

Horses with Gastric Ulcers

The calcium in alfalfa pellets buffers stomach acid, potentially reducing the occurrence of gastric ulcers in performance horses.

Certified Noxious Weed Free

Federal and State authorities require certified noxious weed free forage to be fed in protected national lands. Certified Standlee products are ideal for horses used for trail riding or guided pack trips.

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 baled hay with forage pellets will provide high-quality nutrient-rich forage for you horses. If you have questions, please contact the nutritionists at Standlee Premium Western Forage, or consult with your veterinarian.

By Dr. Stephen Duren
Standlee Nutritional Expert - Performance Horse Nutrition

Department of Animal and Food Sciences

Enjoying the Standlee blog?

Subscribe to Standlee emails and get our newest content (and coupons, offers, and other great stuff) sent to your inbox!

Open enveloper icon Subscribe Now