Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Differences between first and second cut hay

  1. #1
    Been There, Done That, Got the Tshirt LiveWire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Milton, ON
    Posts
    2,105

    Differences between first and second cut hay

    Can you explane the difference between first and second cut hay? The benefits and disadvantages of each?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Seduced By The Power Christmas_Carol's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    ontario
    Posts
    8,985
    First cut hay is hay that, like your lawn, is cut (then dried and baled) for the first time that year.
    For various reasons, it's usually a little "older" (more grown) than second or even 3rd cut hay. So, you'll get more starch and less protein as it's not as actively growing any more. But cut it off, and the grass/about to be hay comes back and starts growing again. So, when it reaches a certain stage of growth (or height, depends on the farmer), it's whacked off again, let dry and then baled up. Because it was more recently growing than 1st cut, it tends to have a higher protein content but a lesser starch(carbohydrate) content.
    When your horse comes in shivering from the cold (if ever ), it's better to give 'em a flake of 1st cut because it takes more "work" from the guts to digest, therefore, burning calories (which are actually a measure of 'heat' ) so your horse warms up faster - from the inside out.
    Second cut, having a higher protein content (or usuallly/supposed to?) is better for horses who need a restricted diet - either in carbs or in volume (nutrient dense), which is why so many people hear about race horses and show horses getting 2nd cut. Less to tote around, faster to digest, doesn't end up leaving a horse with a larger belly... (much of which is more old wive's tale than fact), but I prefer the second myself.
    Second cut, being in a more active growth phase when harvested is apt to have a LOT more leaf than stem, versus your first cut, where you'll find a lot of stem.
    Can't say one is better than the other, just they each have their benefits and their drawbacks. Depends on what anyone wants to use them FOR.
    Now, if you ever manage to get your hands on 3rd (or 4th! ) cut hay, consider it 'candy' for the horses. And like candy, don't let them make a meal out of it.
    I hope that explained as much as *I* know about it.
    “Abstinence is a good thing if practiced in moderation.” Chivalry isn't dead. It just followed wherever lady-like went
    Si vis pacem, para bellum. (if you would have peace, prepare for war.) Lead, follow, or get out of the way!

  3. #3
    Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway catherines's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Baxter / Angus ontario
    Posts
    3,204
    First cut hay has basically been growing since the last cut was taken previous year . It tends to be longer with more stem and the legume ( alfalfa) is usually past the flowering stage (assuming the cut is coming from a mixed field). The grasses are more evident and it is less rich and less dense in nutrients than 2nd cut. It will also be easier to dry and be drier than second cut . So in short tends to be more grassy than second cut . Most horses and ponies can safely be fed 1st cut .


    2nd cut is a shorter growing period the legumes will be more evidenet . The hay will be moister , shorter and greener and more dense in nutrients. I always feed with caution to ponies or horses who have any previous history of founder for whatever reason. I also find my poor doers are better on second cut .

    If your lucky enough to live in an area that gets a third cut the same would apply as is in 2nd cut . Looking forward here to what the more educated amongst us has to say here though .

  4. #4
    Super Moderator 4XChestnut's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    3,688
    Blog Entries
    2
    Too many variables for blanket statements, however second cut tends to be higher in protein because the alfalfa tends to grow strongly after the first cut of grass in a mixed field. Thus giving a higher percentage of alfalfa in the second cut. First cut has a lot of the taller grasses - timothy, fescues, and the like - which are more mature at cutting time and naturally tend to have lower protein and higher fibre content than legumes like alfalfa.

    Second cut grass hay (no alfalfa) can often be higher in starches and carbs because it's stressed. Stressed grass (stress comes from cutting, dry conditions, colder nights) photosynthesizes like crazy and can get a bigger build up of fructans before cutting. Add to that colder nights (which reduces the respiration rates of the grasses both pre and post cut) and the end result can be quite high in carbs/fructans. Photosynthesis and respiration continue until the grass reaches a low enough moisture content - so sunny days and cold nights can increase the fructan content after cutting. Cloudy days and warmer nights can lower it.

    Brat actually had some EPSM issues when his field got some second cut grass round bales a few years ago. It took me a while to figure it out, but he got much better very quickly once the BO went back to giving them first cut again. The BO felt awful, but I didn't even know the brat would be affected that easily. He doesn't have a problem with second cut that has a lot of alfalfa in it because the starches/carbs/fructans are a smaller percentage.

    We tend to think of spring grass as being rich and lush and full of starches, but in reality they aren't. Fructan content is actually at it's lowest during the wild spring growth season. The problem is that there is a lot of it, and horses who are bothered by excessive carbs/starches/sugars are affected by a certain amount, NOT a certain percentage, and they can eat a lot very quickly.

    Really the only real way to know what the nutritional and starch content any given cut has is to test the hay.
    Chestnuts now has a Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/CustomChestnuts

  5. #5
    Premium Members Jocelynne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    1,252
    I was always under the impression that 2nd cut was "richer" hay as in many barns I was at they would feed the hard to keep TBs 2nd cut in comparison to easy keepers like my girls. But, like 4x said, the only way to know would be to test your hay to determine the nutritional information.

  6. #6
    All That & A Bag of Chips
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    399
    Not sure what to do this year. My hay guy who I've used for years says that unless we get lots more rain the 1st cut will be crap. I feed round bales and have 7 equines from the wussy hard-keeping TB to the slightly overweight previously foundered Halflinger, to the previously foundered Cushings Welsh pony and on down... We normally always get 1st cut to avoid issues, but when even HE says it's not going to be very good, it makes me wonder what my options are...

    We usually get about 100 squares to feed indoors, and about 30 or so 4x5 rounds to feed in the winter sacrifice field in a round bale feeder. I really don't think that switching to 2nd cut will be an option for us.

    Everyone already gets grain or supplements depending on what their caloric and/or metabolic requirements are and it's worked beautifully for many years now...

    Crap.

  7. #7
    Premium Members Jocelynne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    1,252
    What about some hay cubes DM for those harder keepers if the first cut isn't quite cutting it for them? Or purchasing a small amount of 2nd cut small squares to feed indoors for those harder keepers?

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •