Thank you all for the great feedback on our first post in this series!
In case you missed it, I'm excited to introduce our new "Let's Learn!" Series here on the blog in 2024! We're going to be talking all things horse care and management.
Last week, we were talking all about hay - specifically, the types of hay most of us horse owners will come across in Southern California.
One comment I heard from many of you, "But my barn offers hay cubes, not actual hay. What about cubes? Are cubes ok?"
What are hay cubes?
Hay cubes are usually made up of coarsely chopped hay. All parts of hay (the stems, leaves, and seed heads) are compressed into small blocks, usually a couple of inches in size. Most cubes are usually made from a single type of hay, such as timothy hay or alfalfa, but you can find cubes made of a mix of grass and alfalfa hay. The process of compressing the hay into a cube is simple, no additives or binders are needed, and the nutritional content of the hay cube is nearly identical to it's baled, loose counter-part.
Why do many boarding facilities offer hay cubes instead of baled hay?
Honestly? For a large boarding facility in Southern California, hay cubes tend to easier and more convenient. Hay cubes are easier to transport and store than large bales of hay. They are also easier to for staff to measure, ensuring consistency in the amount each horse is fed every day. It also can be easier to ensure consistency in nutritional content.
Advantages of Hay Cubes
Consistency - hay cubes make it easy to be consistent with how much your horse is fed and the nutritional content of your hay.
Convenience - as mentioned earlier, hay cubes are easy to transport and store. You can throw a bag of cubes in the back of your car waaayyy easier than a big bale of hay. There's less mess, too! Hay cubes also take up significantly less space than a bale of hay. In a place like SoCal, space is limited and every square inch counts.
Soaked hay cubes are easier for older horses or horses with dental problems to eat.
Disadvantages of Hay Cubes
Because of their compact nature, they may take your horse less time to eat. This can lead to boredom (and all the problems that can come with that - another post!), or can tempt us owner to feed more, which can lead to weight problems and/or behavior problems, especially with nutrient-dense alfalfa cubes.
If your horse consumes dry hay cubes too quickly, he can be at risk for choke. Soaking your hay cubes in water can help alleviate this problem.
If you choose to soak your hay cubes, it could be difficult to coordinate this with your boarding facility.
Sooooo... if your boarding facility only offers hay cubes, it's wouldn't be a deal breaker for me. Take advantage of it! Horses are already expensive enough, so it's perfectly fine to find a way to make those cubes part of your horse's healthy diet.
If you're not keen on your horse getting all of his nutrition from hay cubes, you could certainly find a balance between cubes and regular baled hay. Ask your trainer or vet what they recommend.
If you don't have someone knowledgeable who you trust, I'd love to fill that role in you and your horse's life. Shoot me a message HERE and book a FREE Discovery Call. Let's see how I can help you navigate all the tricky stuff that comes with horse ownership. It never hurts to have a professional in your court.
For my SoCal horse folks, what do YOU think of hay cubes? Love'em? Hate'em? Just meh?
For my horse friends in other parts of the country, how often do you use hay cubes?
Tell me in the comments!