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Abstract

This science fair project was conducted to find out which type of hay provides horses with more energy. Alfalfa, oat and clover hay were evaluated.

Hypothesis

Alfalfa hay gives horses the most amount of energy. Our hypothesis is based on the popularity of alfalfa grass/hay as a form of feed.

Scientific Terms

Herbivores, forage, alfalfa, phosphorus, calcium, carotene

Background

Horses and hay

Horses are herbivores. They consume dry matter up to 2.5% of their body weight everyday. Most of the dry matter consumed by the horses consists of forage made into hay or hay cubes. A 450kg horse can consume up to 10kg of hay in a day!

Hay is a composition of various types of grasses and legumes. The contents of hay depend upon the plant composition at the fields where the hay was harvested. Other factors include the types of seeds used, germination rates, soil conditions and the age of the harvest.

Alfalfa hay is rated as being among the best hay to feed horses. Horses find this hay very palatable. It apparently contains about 20% more energy per unit weight compared to oat hay. However, this might cause overfeeding and make the horse overweight. Alfalfa hay is also rich in protein which is normally converted into energy compounds in the horses body.

Oat hay is also an excellent choice for feeding horses. It contains lower protein and marginal amounts of phosphorus, calcium and carotene. Another good choice is Clover hay. Oat and Clover hay are similar to Alfalfa hay and are normally mixed with grass hay before feeding.

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Complexity level:
9
Project cost ($):
200
Time required:
1 day to prepare, 3 days for the science project experiment
Material availability:
The involvement of 10 healthy horses. A blood glucose meter, and participation of a horse handler.
Safety concerns:

Horses should be handled by qualified handlers at all times to avoid injury.