Is Bluestem Hay Good For Horses?

Bluestem hay is an excellent choice for feeding horses due to its numerous benefits. With its high fiber content and low protein content, bluestem hay provides a well-balanced diet for horses. It is easily digestible and helps promote healthy digestion and bowel movement in horses. Furthermore, bluestem hay is known for its palatability, making it a preferred choice among horse owners. Whether it’s forage or roughage, bluestem hay offers horses the essential nutrients they need to maintain their overall health and well-being.

is bluestem hay good for horses

Nutritional Value of Bluestem Hay for Equine Diet

Bluestem hay is a popular forage choice for horses due to its excellent nutritional value. It is rich in essential nutrients that are essential for the overall health and well-being of equines. Let’s take a closer look at the specific nutritional composition of bluestem hay and how it can benefit horses when included in their diet.

1. Protein Content

Bluestem hay is a good source of protein for horses. Protein is crucial for muscle development, tissue repair, and overall growth. It also plays a significant role in the production of enzymes and hormones. Bluestem hay typically contains around 8-12% crude protein, making it an ideal choice to meet the protein requirements of horses.

2. Energy Levels

For horses involved in moderate to heavy work, energy is a vital component of their diet. Bluestem hay provides a decent amount of energy due to its high fiber content. The fiber present in bluestem hay is easily digestible by horses, giving them a sustained release of energy throughout the day.

3. Fiber Content

Bluestem hay is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which plays a crucial role in equine digestion. The high fiber content promotes healthy gut function and helps prevent digestive issues such as colic and gastric ulcers. It also aids in regulating bowel movements and prevents constipation in horses.

4. Vitamin and Mineral Profile

Bluestem hay is rich in essential vitamins and minerals that are vital for the overall health and well-being of horses. It contains significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, and various B vitamins. These vitamins are crucial for maintaining healthy skin, coat, and immune function. Bluestem hay also provides minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which are essential for strong bones, teeth, and muscle function.

5. Hydration

Although bluestem hay is a source of dry forage, it can contribute to the hydration of horses. Soaking the hay before feeding can help increase its water content, providing additional moisture to the horse’s diet. This is particularly beneficial for horses that may not consume enough water throughout the day, ensuring proper hydration and preventing issues such as dehydration and impaction colic.

6. Weight Management

Bluestem hay can be a valuable component of a weight management program for horses. Its high fiber content helps in creating a feeling of fullness, leading to reduced overall calorie intake. This can be beneficial for horses on restricted diets or those prone to obesity.

In summary, bluestem hay is a highly nutritious forage option for horses. Its protein content, energy levels, fiber content, vitamin and mineral profile, hydration benefits, and weight management properties make it a suitable choice for equine diets. Including bluestem hay in a horse’s diet can contribute to their overall health, performance, and well-being.

How to Properly Incorporate Bluestem Hay into a Horse’s Feeding Regimen

Bluestem hay is a popular forage option for horses due to its nutritional value and palatability. If you’re considering incorporating bluestem hay into your horse’s feeding regimen, it’s important to do so properly to ensure their health and well-being. In this section, we will discuss the steps you should follow to incorporate bluestem hay into your horse’s diet effectively.

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1. Assess your horse’s nutritional requirements

Before introducing bluestem hay into your horse’s feeding regimen, it’s essential to assess their individual nutritional needs. Consider factors such as their age, weight, activity level, and any specific health conditions. Consulting with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist can provide valuable insights into your horse’s specific requirements.

2. Introduce bluestem hay gradually

When adding a new forage source to your horse’s diet, it’s crucial to introduce it gradually to avoid digestive upset. Start by mixing small amounts of bluestem hay with their current hay or forage. Over a period of 7 to 10 days, gradually increase the proportion of bluestem hay while decreasing the amount of their previous forage.

3. Monitor your horse’s response

While incorporating bluestem hay into your horse’s feeding regimen, closely monitor their response to the new hay. Observe their appetite, body condition, and overall health. If you notice any adverse reactions, such as diarrhea or weight loss, consult with a veterinarian to make appropriate adjustments to their diet.

4. Consider the quality of bluestem hay

The quality of bluestem hay can vary, so it’s essential to assess its nutritional content. Factors such as maturity at harvest, storage conditions, and presence of weeds can impact the hay’s quality. Ideally, choose bluestem hay that is harvested at the optimal stage of maturity and stored in a clean, dry environment to maintain its nutritional value.

5. Balance bluestem hay with other feed sources

Bluestem hay should be used as a part of a balanced diet for your horse. Depending on their nutritional requirements, you may need to supplement their diet with additional sources of energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Consult with an equine nutritionist to determine the appropriate feed sources to complement bluestem hay.

6. Provide ample fresh water

When feeding bluestem hay or any other forage, it’s crucial to ensure your horse has access to clean and fresh water at all times. Adequate hydration is essential for digestion and overall health. Monitor your horse’s water intake and promptly address any concerns.

7. Regularly assess your horse’s condition

As you incorporate bluestem hay into your horse’s feeding regimen, regularly assess their body condition and overall health. Adjust their diet as needed to maintain a healthy weight and optimum performance. Remember, each horse is unique, and their feeding regimen may require individual adjustments.

In summary, incorporating bluestem hay into your horse’s feeding regimen requires careful consideration of their nutritional needs, gradual introduction, monitoring their response, assessing hay quality, balancing with other feed sources, providing ample water, and regularly evaluating their condition. By following these steps, you can ensure a well-rounded and nutritious diet for your horse.

Potential Drawbacks of Feeding Bluestem Hay to Horses

While bluestem hay has its benefits as a forage option for horses, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks that may arise from feeding this type of hay. Understanding these drawbacks can help horse owners make informed decisions about their horse’s diet and overall health. Some of the potential drawbacks of feeding bluestem hay to horses include:

1. Nutritional Deficiencies:

Bluestem hay may lack certain essential nutrients that horses require for optimal health. It is important to have the hay analyzed to determine its nutritional content. If the hay is deficient in key nutrients such as protein, vitamins, or minerals, it may be necessary to supplement the horse’s diet with additional feed or supplements.

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2. High Fiber Content:

Bluestem hay is known for its high fiber content, which can be beneficial for some horses. However, excessive fiber intake can also pose risks. Horses that consume too much fiber without adequate water intake may be at risk of impaction colic, a condition where the digestive system becomes blocked. It is important to ensure that horses have access to clean water at all times when feeding them bluestem hay.

3. Potential for Mold:

Like any type of hay, bluestem hay can be prone to mold growth if not stored properly. Moldy hay can be harmful to horses and may lead to respiratory issues or even colic. It is crucial to inspect the hay for signs of mold before feeding it to horses. If mold is present, the hay should be discarded to prevent any health risks.

4. Allergenic Reactions:

Some horses may have allergies or sensitivities to certain types of grasses, including bluestem. When feeding bluestem hay to horses for the first time, it is important to monitor their reactions closely. Signs of allergies or sensitivities may include coughing, nasal discharge, skin irritations, or gastrointestinal disturbances. If any adverse reactions occur, it is recommended to discontinue feeding bluestem hay and consult a veterinarian.

5. Palatability:

Not all horses may find bluestem hay palatable. Some horses may show reluctance to eat it, which can result in reduced feed intake and potential weight loss. It is important to introduce bluestem hay gradually and monitor the horse’s acceptance and overall condition. If the horse refuses to consume the hay or experiences weight loss, alternative forage options may need to be considered.

6. Cost:

The cost of bluestem hay can vary depending on factors such as availability, location, and quality. In some regions, bluestem hay may be more expensive compared to other types of forage. Horse owners should consider the cost-effectiveness of feeding bluestem hay in relation to their horse’s specific needs and dietary requirements.

In summary, while bluestem hay can be a valuable forage option for horses, there are potential drawbacks that need to be taken into consideration. Nutritional deficiencies, high fiber content, potential for mold, allergenic reactions, palatability issues, and cost are all factors that horse owners should evaluate when deciding to feed bluestem hay. Regular monitoring of the horse’s health and consulting with a veterinarian can help ensure that the horse’s nutritional needs are being met and any potential issues are addressed promptly.

Tips for choosing high-quality bluestem hay for your horses

Choosing the right type of hay for your horses is essential to ensure their health and well-being. Bluestem hay is a popular choice among horse owners due to its nutritional value and availability. However, not all bluestem hay is created equal. To help you select high-quality bluestem hay for your horses, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

1. Visual inspection

Start by visually inspecting the bluestem hay before purchasing. Look for hay that is clean, free from dust, mold, and weeds. It should have a fresh and green appearance. Avoid hay that is discolored or has a musty smell, as these signs indicate poor quality or potential health risks for your horses.

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2. Texture and leafiness

Consider the texture and leafiness of the bluestem hay. High-quality hay should have long, soft stems with a good amount of leaves. The stems should be flexible and not brittle. Avoid hay that is coarse, overly dry, or contains a high proportion of stems, as it may be less nutritious and less palatable for your horses.

3. Nutritional content

Check the nutritional content of the bluestem hay. Ideally, it should have a balanced ratio of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and minerals that meet your horses’ requirements. Consider getting the hay tested for its nutrient content to ensure it provides the necessary nutrients for your horses’ specific needs.

4. Weed content

Inspect the bluestem hay for any weeds or foreign substances. Weeds can not only reduce the nutritional value of the hay but also pose health risks to your horses. Remove any hay that contains a high amount of weeds or unknown plants.

5. Storage conditions

Find out about the storage conditions of the bluestem hay. Proper storage is crucial to maintain the quality of hay over time. It should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated area to prevent rotting or molding. Ask the supplier about the storage practices to ensure the hay has been well-preserved.

6. Source and reputation

Consider the source and reputation of the hay supplier. Choose a reputable supplier known for providing high-quality hay. Seek recommendations from fellow horse owners or consult with your equine veterinarian for reliable suppliers in your area.

7. Price and quantity

Compare prices and quantities offered by different hay suppliers. While price is an important factor, prioritize quality over quantity. It’s better to pay a little more for high-quality bluestem hay that meets your horses’ nutritional needs rather than compromising on their health.

In summary, selecting high-quality bluestem hay for your horses involves visually inspecting the hay, considering its texture and leafiness, checking its nutritional content, ensuring minimal weed content, evaluating storage conditions, considering the source and reputation of the supplier, and comparing prices and quantities. By following these tips, you can ensure your horses receive the best possible nutrition from their hay, promoting their overall health and well-being.


Is bluestem hay good for horses?

Yes, bluestem hay is generally considered to be a good feed for horses. It is a high-quality forage that provides the necessary nutrients for horses, including fiber, protein, and energy. However, it’s important to ensure that the bluestem hay is of good quality and free from mold or dust.


In conclusion, Bluestem hay is a highly beneficial and nutritious forage option for horses. Its high fiber content aids in proper digestion and prevents digestive disorders. Bluestem hay is packed with essential nutrients and vitamins that contribute to the overall health and well-being of horses. Moreover, its long stem structure promotes natural chewing behavior, reducing the risk of dental problems. By providing Bluestem hay to horses, owners can ensure proper weight management, healthy coat condition, and a strong immune system. So, when it comes to choosing hay for your horses, Bluestem hay is definitely an excellent choice.