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Best Cutting For Horse Hay: 1st, 2nd, Or 3rd?

What do these terms mean? And what cutting is best?

November 19, 2019

It’s important to choose the right hay for your horse. On your hunt for hay, you’re likely to run across different cuttings. Many horse owners wonder which is better 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. There are quite a few factors involved in determining this!

To begin with, 1st cutting is the first hay cut from that field for the year. It tends to be more coarse and have more grasses in it. 2nd cutting is usually greener in color and has a sweeter smell. And lastly, 3rd cutting is very thick and rich. Not all farmers will get a 3rd cutting though.

It’s hard to say whether one cutting is superior over the other. Instead, it’s advisable to treat each crop of hay individually.

You’ll want to rate it based on the following…

Weeds: A weedy field will produce weedy hay. Many horses will turn their nose up to hay with a lot of weeds. Furthermore, weeds don’t offer a lot of nutritional value.

Maturity: Spring rains can delay farmers from harvesting their 1st cutting of hay. The taller the hay grows the coarser and tougher it becomes. It also looses it nutritional value over time. This hay may be fine for the easy keeper though.

Weather Issues: Excess moisture can result in mold growth. You’ll want to avoid this hay, as it can cause digestive and respiratory problems.

Inspect a few bales. You’ll want to look for mold, moisture, weeds, texture, dirt, and insects. You can even perform a hay analysis to check crude protein, fiber, energy, and mineral content.

All cuttings can result in good-quality horse hay! Many horse owners jump at the chance to purchase 2nd. If you have a hard keeper or senior horse, then this may be a good idea. However, a lot of horses do just fine on quality 1st cutting hay. It’s usually more affordable, as well!

Read more about hay here: FAQ About Feeding Your Horse Hay!

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