Is bluestem grass good for horses?

Answered by Michael Wilson

Bluestem grass, also known as big bluestem, is a warm-season grass that is native to North America. It has gained popularity as a forage option for horses due to its high nutritional value and potential benefits for horses with metabolic issues such as obesity and laminitis.

One of the main advantages of bluestem grass is its lower sugar content compared to cool-season hays. Horses with metabolic problems often struggle with high sugar intake, which can exacerbate their condition. Bluestem grass has been found to have lower sugar levels, making it a suitable option for these horses.

In a study conducted at Virginia Tech, researchers found that voluntary intake of big bluestem hay was lower than that of more common cool-season hays. This can be seen as a positive aspect for horses prone to weight gain and metabolic issues, as they may consume less of the bluestem hay and therefore consume fewer calories overall.

Furthermore, bluestem grass has a higher fiber content compared to some other forages. Fiber is an essential component of a horse’s diet as it helps maintain proper gut function and can aid in weight management. The higher fiber content of bluestem grass can be beneficial for horses that need to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Aside from its nutritional benefits, bluestem grass can also be a valuable addition to a horse’s diet for environmental reasons. As a native grass, it is well adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, making it a sustainable forage option. It requires less water and fertilizer compared to some introduced cool-season grasses, reducing the environmental impact of its cultivation.

While bluestem grass offers numerous advantages, it is important to note that every horse is unique, and individual dietary needs may vary. It is always recommended to consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to determine the most suitable forage options for your horse based on their specific dietary requirements and health conditions.

Bluestem grass can be a beneficial forage option for horses, particularly those with metabolic issues such as obesity and laminitis. Its lower sugar content and higher fiber content make it a suitable choice for these horses, as it can help manage their weight and support gut health. Additionally, its sustainability and adaptability make it an environmentally friendly choice. However, personalized advice from a professional should always be sought to ensure the best nutrition for each individual horse.