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University of Minnesota Extension

Understanding your hay analysis

Quick facts

  • A basic hay analysis costs about $20.

  • Optimum horse hay moisture ranges from 10 to 15 percent.

  • ADF values under 45 percent are generally good for horses.

  • NDF values under 65 percent are generally good for horses.

  • The adult horse at maintenance should have a Ca to P ratio between 3:1 and 1:1.

A hay analysis helps you better understand what you’re feeding your horse. This is especially important if you’re concerned about the hay quality or if your horse is having nutrition problems.

Always request a horse analysis when sending in hay samples. You will need a separate analysis for each field, cutting etc. A basic hay analysis costs about $20.

After an analysis, work with a horse nutritionist to balance your horse’s ration.

Reading a hay analysis

On a hay analysis there are two columns of numbers: “As Sampled” and “Dry Matter.” As sampled reports nutrients in their natural state including water. While dry matter reports nutrients with the moisture removed.

You can use either column for balancing your horse’s diet but be consistent; however, we recommend using the % Dry Matter column. Below is a shortlist of some components analyzed in hay.


Krishona Martinson, Extension equine specialist 

Reviewed in 2021

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