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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Straw instead of grass hay?

Hello, Dr. Getty

It's been very confusing and certainly frustrating for me lately in regard of feeding my horses straw or grass hay. I hear people say straw causes colic (in time or anytime) and horses should be fed grass hay for that very reason instead. So not to feed straw whatsoever. Others say straw (wheat, oats, barley, just any) isn't bad and that it could be a substitute for grass hay.

I need an answer.

My horses are fed alfalfa hay mixed with straw. In fact, they get more straw than alfalfa, but they get both twice daily (morning and night). They don't get grass hay at all because where I board, they offer only that and that only.

I've always thought that horses should get grass hay, legumes, but not straw. I found that both straw and grass hay due provide the horse lots of chewing time, and they sure both provide different nutritious values, but that's another story.

I want to know if I can depend on straw and alfalfa mix instead of grass hay and alfalfa for a lifetime like the know-it-all people at this boarding stables say. I don't find exact discussions about this very topic on the Internet, so I need to hear it from horse's mouth.

Your answers are highly appreciated as this has caused lots of worries (horses get colic, other digestive problems).


Where are you from? Dubai

How did you locate this forum?

Re: Straw instead of grass hay?

Hello Hamad,

Thank you for writing. You are correct – horses should get grass hay and legumes, but not straw. Straw is very poorly digested, and therefore provides little to no energy value for the horse. Plus, many horses have been known to choke on the coarse stems, or even colic, if too much straw is consumed.

So, I do not recommend feeding straw. It is not a substitute for hay. So, if you can find a grass hay, that would be the best thing for your horse, along with the alfalfa – a 60/40 mixture of grass hay/alfalfa hay is best.

If grass hay is not available, let me know, and I’ll try to help you find a substitute, but you would be wise to stop feeding straw.

All the best,

Dr. Getty