Your guide to sustainable horsekeeping

The Green Horse section provides practical information on managing environmentally sustainable horse properties, readers stories and tips, as well as advice and articles from equestrian experts in their fields.


April/May 2015
Vol 36 No 6

In this issue of The Green Horse you will find the following articles:

Information Exchange
Sand and stones in lucerne hay and chaff

One Leaf Cape Tulip
by Nicola Field

How Much Land Is Needed to Run Two Horses by Andrea Carmody

Starting From Scratch - setting up a property
by Cynthia Cooper

Grass For Horses - part 4
by Mariette van den Burg

Bore Water by Liz Beavis


by Wendy Elks

Top Left: Approximately a 2 litre container of lucerne chaff placed in a bucket and (top right) the sand and rocks left in the bucket after the chaff was washed and shaken around then removed.
Right: Shake lucerne before you buy it to check on the amount of sand it contains.

Dear Green Horse,
I recently discovered sand and stones in my lucerne chaff and am wondering how much is considered acceptable in hay and chaff? The photo attached shows what was left from approximately a two litre ice-cream container quantity of chaff. I was concerned about the effect this would have on our horses such as getting colic, or the potential for the gravel to crack my horses’ molars. Has it got something to do with the way the lucerne is produced? Thanks in advance, Alison.


Sand being present in lucerne hay is due to the hay being raked too aggressively under damp conditions. This causes sand to be flicked up onto the lucerne and due to the dampness it then sticks to the lucerne. This usually occurs in drier years when the actual lucerne that has been cut is quite short. There should be no sand present in chaff at all, if this was to happen, the chaff should be returned to the supplier!
In small bales of lucerne hay it would be concerning if there was more than say the equivalent of a ‘sprinkling’ of sand in the bottom of the hay feeder. Any more than this, it is suggested that the hay be returned to the supplier. Certainly any more than say a tablespoon of sand per feed of hay would be most alarming as this would certainly in time be a contributing factor to sand colic occurring.
Purchase from reputable suppliers or alternatively purchase from the grower themselves and request that you have the opportunity to open up a bale and have a good look at it. Make sure you shake it to see what sand falls out and to check for mould etc prior to agreeing to any purchase . Excellent quality hay plenty of leaf, no mould and which feels soft (and smells fresh!). If needed, the best way to remove the sand is to shake the hay prior to feeding to your horse.

If you have any questions about lucerne hay please contact the Australia Fodder Industry Association (AFIA)

For more general lucerne industry matters, especially relating to lucerne seed production, contact Lucerne Australia




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