Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

Last post 08-17-2009 11:59 AM by madelynpl. 17 replies.
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  • 01-21-2009 4:42 PM

    Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    Hi!  I'm hoping that someone here will know about the nutritional value of peanut hay and whether or not it makes "hot" horses "hotter", like alfalfa.

     I'm in FL on a tight budget and the last few bales of legume mix hay that I have bought (Orchard & Alfalfa) have all been moldy!!!

    My friend has been encouraging me to feed my horse some peanut hay (it's cheaper than other legume hay and does not seem to have a mold problem around here) and I'm wary to try it until I know more about it.


    HOTM March 2010
  • 01-21-2009 8:13 PM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    I thought this article might help.  I have never heard of Peanut Hay myself.  The underlined sentence says it is very simular to alfalfa in energy content.

    Perennial Peanut Hay As A Roughage For Horses

    Gary Heusner
    Extension Animal Scientist - Equine

    A number of horse owners and managers have been asking about perennial peanut hay as a hay source for horses. Perennial peanut hay should not be confused with "peanut hay" that is the aftermath from harvested peanuts. Perennial peanut is a high-quality persistent tropical forage legume which can be grazed or fed as a harvested hay. Limited research has been done to determine the digestibility of perennial peanut hay in the horse. Dr. Sandi Lieb and colleagues with the University of Florida in 1993 reported on some work comparing perennial peanut (Florigiaze variety), coastal bermudagrass, bahiagrass, and alfalfa hays. The results indicted that rhizomal perennial peanut hay is more closely equivalent to alfalfa than to the grass hays studied in nutrient content and digestibility. For this study the crude protein content, Neutral Detergent Fiber %, and digestible energy content are listed in Table 1 along with an estimated relative feeding value based on crude protein, neutral detergent fiber content, digestible energy, and expected acceptability.

    TABLE 1. Nutrient Contents and Relative Feed Values of

    Hays Tested (100% Dry Matter Basis)

    Perennial Peanut Alfalfa Bermuda Bahia
    Crude Protein % 15.9 19.7 14.4 7.0
    Neutral Detergent Fiber % 51.0 42.8 76.7 77.4
    Digestible Energy Meal/Ib 1.14 1.25 0.88 0.67
    Estimated Relative Feed Values 92 100 73 56

    Comparing the nutrient contents of the hays, it is easy to see that based on the nutrients the two legumes (perennial peanut and alfalfa) are more similar in protein, fiber, and energy content. In this particular study there was a wide variation in the quality of the grass hays (Bermuda and Bahia). This is typical of hays that are produced and sold as horse hays. That is, there is a wide variation in nutrient content of hays due to stage of maturity, fertility and conditions of harvesting. The Estimated Relative Feeding Values are Based upon a high quality Alfalfa hay being assigned a value of 100 based on nutrient content and acceptability. Acceptability is defined loosely as how much a horse likes the hay and will consume when fed ad libitum (twenty-four access).

    Table 2 provides nutrient contents and relative feeding values of hays based on nutrient and fiber contents. It was reported in the Florida study that the perennial peanut hay was actually consumed at higher rates than the other hays. Peanut hay was consumed at the rate of 3.18% of the horses' body weight whereas alfalfa was consumed at 2.45%, Bermudagrass 2.77%, and Bahiagrass 1.55% of the horses' body weight.

    The bottom line is that Perennial Peanut Hays is a legume that will work very well as a forage source for horses. Caution must be used when switching to peanut hay from a grass hay. Horses should be gradually switched over to prevent digestive disturbances just like any change in feed should be made over a period of seven to ten days.

    TABLE 2. Relative feeding values of hays for horses

    (100% DM basis)

    Hay Crude Prot % NDF % C. Fiber 
    DE mcal/Ib Relative Fed Value
    Alfalfa < 20 > 30 > 23 1.2 100
    Alfalfa 16 - 18 40 - 47 24 - 28 1.1 92
    Alfalfa < 15 > 47 > 28 1.0 83
    Bermuda > 12 < 65 < 30 0.9 75
    Bermuda 8 - 12  66 -72  31 - 35 0.8  67
    Bermuda < 7 > 72 > 35 0.7 58
    Bahia > 9.5 < 68 < 32 0.75 63
    Bahia 7 -9.5 68 -72 32 - 36  0.7 58
    Bahia < 7 > 76 > 36 0.6 50

    I ride high in the saddle, always saddle my own horse
    still I'm every inch a lady from the outside to the core
    I take the trail less traveled `cause I know where it leads
    I live my life by the cowgirl creed

    As for me and my horse, we will ride for the Lord!
  • 01-22-2009 7:38 AM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    Thanks for the info, amber!  This helps me a lot!

    HOTM March 2010
  • 01-22-2009 8:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    Me neither - thanks for the info Amber!  See, learn something new here everyday.

  • 01-22-2009 10:21 AM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    Just a note of caution that the beginning of the article DOES reference two types of peanut hay.

     The "perennial peanut hay" and then just "peanut hay". 

    They are not the same qualityBig Smile

  • 01-23-2009 5:53 PM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    thanks for the reminder.  you can never be too carefulYes

    HOTM March 2010
  • 01-26-2009 5:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    I was taking a horticulture class last semester and one of the plants that I chose to research was Perrenial Peanut Hay.

    Here is what I learned about it:

    Perennial Peanut Hay, or, the Rhizoma Peanut

    Botanical name: Arachis glabrata Benth., Fabaceae

    Peanut hay is an often overlooked alternative option as a grazing forage for feeding livestock in the deep South. It is a wonderful forage but many people have never heard of herbaceous perennial peanut hay. It has only penetrated about 1% of the market for forages. Peanut hay is a legume and it is similar in nutritional value to alfalfa. It is close to alfalfa in its protein content (about 13% to 20%) with a similar amino acid and mineral composition. It also has the fine stems and large leaves. Please note: peanut hay is NOT the leftover plants from harvesting edible peanuts (Arachis hypogaea). It is a sterile rhizome plant that produces no peanuts, It was first introduced into this country from Brazil in 1936 as part of an experiment at the University of Florida. Years later, left over stray rhizomes from the original experiment were rediscovered, the Florigraze cultivar was created, and peanut hay production was started.

    Peanut hay has mainly been grown and experimented with in Florida where it is well liked and most commonly grown along the Gulf Coast region. It is also being grown in Georgia, Alabama, southern Texas, and Louisiana. Parts of the Carolinas would be the uppermost east coast location where peanut hay could be cultivated since the plant is a semi-tropical perennial.

    Two peanut hay cultivars are favored and available, ‘Florigraze’ and ‘Arbrook’. An ornamental type cultivar, 'Ecoturf' is also available.

    'Arbrook' is favored over 'Florigraze' on excessively drained soils and under drought conditions and it appears to be better adapted to and higher yielding on deep, sandy soils It does not tolerate wet soil.

    'Florigraze' grows less upright, achieves ground cover faster following establishment, and is more cold-tolerant than 'Arbrook'. Compared under management during 4 years, the yield was similar but ,Arbrook, was more productive early in the season and in the Autumn of dry years.

    The rhizoma peanuts have a mass of rhizomes just below the soil surface like bermudagrass and an occasional tap root which can go to great depths in many soils. Fine roots are attached to the rhizomes and tap roots. They have exceptional drought tolerance.

    Advantages, as a forage source: As a perennial, it does not need replanting for 20 or 30 years. Doesn't need pesticides, fertilizers or fungicides once it is established. Once established it has a deep root system. Very palatable and easily digestible as a livestock forage. Does not cause explosive energy in horses and it gives a glossy coat. It is not outlandishly expensive. It is harvested 2 or 3 times during a growing season. It is a Southern option to hay for use as a forage.

    Disadvantages: Slow to establish, the plants take several years to develop before farmers can see hay production or profit, It is not adapted to poorly drained soils or soils which flood. Weed control while a field of peanut hay is being establish can be problematic and will require attention. Performs well in the subtropical climates only. There is one known stunt virus that affects white clover that can also infect peanut hay:

    Culture: Due to the cost of establishment, risk of a failure, and the typically slow establishment rate for peanut hay, it is often initially established in a relatively small irrigated 'nursery' area. An established stand of well managed peanut hay on an acre of ground could then provide enough rhizomes to plant 20 more acres.

    Competition from undesirable plant species and weeds must be minimized. Any existing vegetation, such as bermudagrass or bahiagrass, must be destroyed as completely as possible. The site to be planted later should be well prepared by early November.

    Dormant Rhizomes should be dug and transplanted before they break their dormancy in late winter. Example: digging and transplanting rhizomes would be by February or early March in Louisiana. The harvested rhizomes should be planted immediately so that they will not dry out. If not planted immediately, the rhizomes must be kept cool and moist.

    Rhizome planting rate should be at least 40 bushels per acre. Bermudagrass sprig harvesters and planters have been adapted to dig and plant rhizome peanuts

    Rhizomes can be broadcast, covered by about an inch of soil by light discing, and roller packed to insure good soil contact with the rhizomes. Weed control can be critical to stand establishment. Tall upright-growing weeds should be mowed as needed to provide light to the lower growing rhizoma peanuts. Grazing livestock for short periods may also be an effective means of maintaining an open canopy.

  • 01-27-2009 8:41 AM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    I worked at small feed store and different people would bring their hay for us to sell for them. Someone brought peanut hay and it was really cheap. BUT I did not like it at all.I do not know about the nutritional value but I was concerned about the stems from the peanut plants. They are sharp and thick. Most of the time the horses will just eat the leaves but if one of the stems got stuck in their gut, I dont think that would be a very good situation. I would not feed it to my horses.

  • 01-27-2009 11:07 AM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    Wow, marestache,

    This is very informative and helpful.  Thank youSmile

    HOTM March 2010
  • 01-27-2009 1:30 PM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    DON'T !   DON'T !!!   DON'T  !!!!!!!    Don't do it! 

    Why should you listen to me?  I have spent almost 45 years living with horses on my farm.  I literally was morn into a many multi-generations family of living and working with horses, and all manners of crops.  I ws born into the horse business, studied it my whole life (including Agronomy), became a professional trainer at 15, was responsible for the care of as many as 60 horses at a time, ride all disiplines, and have worked with a huge number of breeds.  My first 30 years were on my family's farm in Suffolk, Virginia.  Virginia is known world-wide for quality horses and horse people.  Among my credentials is that I was one of the first 10 youths to be certified "Horsemaster" thru the 4-H program.  Suffolk is the Peanut Market Capital of the World.  This area is the home of peanuts in this hemisphere, and more poundage is produced in the area than anywhere else in the world.  Peanuts were grown on our 300 acre farm, along with some of the state's top show horses.  We produced ALL of our own feeds, hays, and beddings ourselves right there on our farm.  So, I know a thing or two about both topics.

    First, peanuts are legumes, just like alfafa, clover, soybeans (actually all beans), and lespadeza to name a few.  Second, too many calories vs. too little work load make horses "hot".  Carbs are the most caloric food stuffs.  Corn is one of the highest carb intense feeds fed to horses.  Proteins contain less calories per pound.  Legumes are higher in protien content than grasses (Bluegrass, Fescue, Timothy, Orchard, Bermuda, Bahia, etc).

    Where hay is harvested for horse consumption, it typically is cut X number of inches above the ground surface; then falls down to lay on top of its stems; therefor "floating" on a bed of vegataion that allows air to flow in, around, over and under the cut hay.  Typically, grass hays are left to cure (dehydrate) for 3 sunny days, before then being raked and baled.  Hay is harvested typically mid-May thru mid-Sept.

    Peanut hay is a by-product of commercial nut production, and it has been around Va. for about 400 years. Peanuts are harvested by digging the plants up (the "nuts" are actually tubers [like a potatoes]), and "flipping" the plants upside down.  This places the tubers on top and the foliage (or "hay") directly on the ground.  The nuts are heavy (what you buy in a store is featherweight compared to freshly dug green peanuts in the field), and the foliage is compacted signfiicently as a result.  Peanut fields are kept cultivated (free of other vegatation) during the growing season) and so the foliage is laying on bare, moist dirt after digging.  Remember the roots of the plants are on top and they are covered in dirt.  Peanuts are harvested in the fall (mid to late Oct. in VA).and they are left to cure for usually 7-14 after they are dug.  Rain is not necessarily a bad thing at this stage, because it helps wash the dirt off the nuts.  Then, the peanuts are serperated from their "vines" using a special combine.  This process creates a extreme amount of dust and just being near a field will clog your lungs!  Peanut farmers do not care at all about the "hay".  Traditionally, it is plowed back under in the Spring; or in the old days, fed to the hogs.  If the peanut hay is baled, it may be weeks or months later, all-the-while, laying in the dirty/muddy field, getting rained/snowed on, etc.

     Keep in mind, that what causes hay to mold is the mositure content, and heat generated from that moisture.  Remember decomposotion creates heat.  Think about your compost pile...

     Now that you know the differences in production, let's compare the actual product you are considering feeding to your equine's delicate digestive system:  Rarely, have I ever seen peanut hay that is not severely moldy.  Legume hays tend to mold more easily than grass hays anyways.  And don't even get me started on round bales!  Why is it so consistantly moldy?  Think about the "harvesting" process I have just described.  And how much dirt and dust would you like to go with all that mold?  Horses as a species are extremely susiptable to resipatory probelms, you know. And the dirt is the major reason peanut hay weighs so much, too.  Peanut foilage is much coarser than clover, alfafa, and lespadeza legumes.  Most legumes are coarser than most grasses.  Horses prefer fine  texture forages over coarser ones.

    But what to do, when you need other options?   I have spent the last 15 years in coastal SC, where quality hay is much harder to find, and I have to feed hay year round, because there are no suitable perinneal winter grasses that grow here.  Remember, that like in all things,  transportation of goods to marketplace is the single biggest cost.  So, any hay grown locally will be cheaper than "imported" products.  Because of the inconsistanty of quality and sometimes, complete unavailablitiy of acceptable quaility, I have transistioned to feeding hay cubes exclusively.  You can get alfalfa, timothy, or a mix.  Timothy will be lower in protien and therefor, lower in calories (a better choice for "under worked" horses).   

     Cubes have been around for about 15 years, and the process provides very consistant product.  Basically, the forage is cut; immediately brought to a processing plant, where it is immediately dehydrated, and then compacted into cubes; and packaged into 50 lb. size bags.  The processing is controlled exactly by sensors and computers that monitor mositure level, and some, if not all, processors are using "freeze drying" to ensure there is not heat generated inside the cubes. 

    Cubes in bags are easier to handle and store than traditional bales of hay.  Because they can compact the hay into so much of a smaller space, and eliminate moisture weight, transpotation costs from field to consumer is much lower than traditional baled hay.  Currently, and consistantly, for several years now, I can buy the highest quality alfafa cubes cheaper than even the poorest quality local "cow" hay! 

    Use:  When you use hay cubes, you do have to rehydrate them for your horses.  Simply put the desired amount (bags all give you specific information) into a bucket or feed tub, add  water (hot, warm or cold, depending on the season and your horse), let sit for 15-30 minutes, than give to your horse. 

    Other advantages:  When it's cold outside, horses love warm cubes, and love cold cubes when it's really hot weather.  Our TB is currently consuming about 10 gallons of wet cubes per day in addition to his grain.  Feeding wet cubes helps ensure a horse is getting a certian amount of water per day.  This helps prevent dehydration in both summer and winter.  It also goes a long way to keeping the gut flowing, and preventing colic. 

    Disadvantages:  You will have to clean your feed tubs more often.  This is actually healthier for your horse, anyway.  We rinse ours after each feeding, and wash once a week.  All are labeled with each horse's name, so germs are not spread to other horses.  And beware of  the "green" kisses you'll be getting!

    ALWAYS REMEMBER:  Any animal will eat ANYTHING, if they are hungry enough.  That means they will indeed eat something that can kill them, IF they are hungry enough and have no other choices available. 

    Cows won't eat peanut hay, if given any other choice.  Cows can handle moldy feeds and hays with out any ill effects.  By comparison, say the word "mold" to a horse, and you'll be calling a vet shortly! 

    So, feed peanut hay to your horse if you choose; but your horse wiill be the first to pay the price!



  • 01-29-2009 7:07 AM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?


    Thanks for your concern.  As a fellow Virginian (I spent most of my life in VA Beach and am familiar with Suffolk)  I appreciate your adviceCool

    HOTM March 2010
  • 01-29-2009 7:10 AM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?


    Question:  Did the feed store sell Perenial Peanut Hay or was it just the by-product of actual peanut harvesting.  According to 2 articles further down in the thread, there is a huge difference between the 2 and I'm curious as to which kind you had experience with.

    HOTM March 2010
  • 03-16-2009 11:46 AM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    I live in east central alabama, we raise cattle and grow coastal hay, and our cattle when given the choice choose

    peanut hay over the coastal hay. The peanut hay we feed is the byproduct of the harvesting of peanuts. I am thankful

    that they do love it so much that just means more coastal for my horses. Baleing peanut hay is tricky the conditions

    have to be just right for it to be good. No rain for the 5 days the peanuts are allowed to dry in the field, and the hay

    is baled right behind the combines. But our cows love it.

  • 08-17-2009 4:26 AM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

     This response if confusing the issue here.

     Perennial Peanut hay is not in any way related to the peanut stubble baled for hay at nut producing farms. It also CANNOT be produced outside of the immediate gulf coast region and a bit of the immediate coastal region in southern South Carolina and Georgia. ...It is a tropical legume requiring rather intensive management compared to the traditional nut producing peanut plant referenced by a previous poster. 


    Perennial Peanut is an excellent alternative to other high nutrient value feeds for your horses. My horses love it, and really liked it from the first five minutes I introduced it to them,,, but my horses have plenty of free range pasture to compliment their random 'treats'.  In the gulf coast area, where it is grown, it is the best alternative savvy horse owners can find, and will likely overcome many of the transportation problems associated with alfalfa importation we have had to deal with. 

    There likely isn't a 'perfect' feed for any animal, but Perennial Peanut is right up there with the best of them when a logical investigation is made of all factors.  ...I suggest any interested parties take a good look at this product, because I am sure you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

  • 08-17-2009 5:44 AM In reply to

    Re: Peanut Hay - nutritional value?

    I live in Tallahassee, and after reading this, I suspect what we have been giving our horses is the perennial peanut hay, because it is always green and lush and the horses absolutely go nuts for it. This has been very informative, however. If you have access to the perennial peanut hay, it is really nice, and it has never made our horses hot, but it is quite expensive.

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