Is timothy hay good for horses: Basic feeding guide

There are several types of hays available to feed your horses. Hay comprises legumes and grasses. Most horse owners prefer alfalfa to fulfill the leguminous hay requirement of horses. Timothy and orchards remain the top grass hay choices in the US. Many new horse keepers may question whether they should believe the conventional feeding system. Is timothy hay good for horses?

Let us take a quick tour into the Timothy hay feeding guide for the horses.

What is Timothy Hay?

The scientific name of the Timothy hay is Phleum pratense and is also called timothy-grass, meadow cat’s-tail or common cat’s tail in different regions. Interestingly, it is named timothy after American farmer ‘Timothy Hanson’ who promoted this phenomenal hay option outside the New England.

It is a perennial grass rich in fiber, nutrients, and energy content, making it ideal to feed horses as they require a high-fiber diet consistently. Like all other grasses, its protein value is less. It is native to the Europe and widely grown in North America for pasture and hay purposes.

It is late maturing grass which makes it fiber-lush. The long stem of grass makes it more consistent and enables the condition of the cattle and horses.

Growing Timothy Hay- Tedious or Relaxing Task?

Farmers sow Timothy in long sunlight hours, which typically occurs in late summer or spring. Timothy takes 50-60 days’ harvesting period. It is a versatile grass and can grow on most of the soils.

A well amended soil bed is essential to promote the growth of high-quality grass. The pH of the soil also plays an important deciding factor in the fate of the seedlings. Moisture should be optimum throughout the growing period, as they don’t thrive in drought conditions.

Farmers should complete the cutting in advance of early bloom, as it is the nutrient-rich stage of the plant. This cut forage is easy to dry too.

Ted the harvested after cutting and dry it in the sun. Later ted the hay from the bale according to the feed requirements.

Farmers sometimes plant Timothy alone in the field as a forage, but they often associate it with legumes. The legumes fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, hence, additional fertilizer is needless.

Is Timothy Hay Good for Horses?

Forage makes a major portion of the horse’s diet. Timothy hay is popular among the horses as one of the quality forage options available. It is one of the most digestible hay options for horses. This grass option is viable for all classes of horses including young and growing horses.

Since Timothy is just grass. Expect only 6 to 10% of the protein and nearly 32% of fiber content in the feed available for horses. Also, Ca:P (ratio of calcium to phosphorous) is 2:1. Being lower in carbs, it delivers more energy to your horse, making it a good roughage option.

Advantages of feeding Timothy to your horses include:

  • Timothy is rich in fiber while lower in protein and digestible energy, making it easy to digest feed for the horses.
  • Obese horses need to exclude carbs in their diet hence, hay is the preferred feed for them.
  • The structure of the Timothy makes it a palatable option, causing less irritation to the horse’s GIT.
  • Being richer in minerals than other ordinary grasses, Timothy helps in improving the coat quality of the horse, making it glossier and healthier.
  • The good digestive value of Timothy helps with bowel regularity. It avoids issues like gastric ulcers and colic in horses.
  • Protein-sensitive horses are to be provided with alternative feed options and hay grasses stand out for this.


Q 1. Can a horse eat Timothy hay?

Ans: You must encounter the name of Timothy as a favorite hay among horse owners. Horses enjoy this fiber-rich diet to satisfy their appetite.

Q 2. How much timothy hay should someone feed to the horse?

The decision to feed forage and concentrate on the horse is based on its individual body weight. A mature horse can intake hay approximately 1.5-3% of its body weight. So, if Timothy is the only hay in feed, you can feed up to 5.5-6.5 kg in a day to a 1000-pound horse.

Q 3. What is the nutritive value of Timothy hay?

Ans: Nutritional content of Timothy hay includes CP= 6-10%, Ca= 0.3- 0.5%, and DE (Digestible Energy) = 0.82-0.94 MCal/pound. Timothy grass's high fiber and low protein make it easy to digest for horses.


An accurate balance of fodder and concentration in the horse’s feed is essential to gain the right weight and health parameters. Hay is important to keep your horse easy on the stomach and alert on the ground.

Timothy grass is a gold standard for hay feeding. This grass substitute is fulfilling and filled with nutritive value. Many horses can consume the hay, and you should estimate the intake value based on your riding partner's body weight.

Not all hays will provide the same results for the growth and maintenance of your horses. Discuss with your veterinarian to get the balanced ration formulated for your horse.


Dr Akanksha Agnihotri is another animal lover like you cum veterinarian by profession. She has earned her B.V.Sc & AH from COVS & AH, Jabalpur, India. She has a knack for befriending animals/pets and treating them compassionately. She believes...