An increasingly popular equine forage, teff grass is grown in warm geographic regions and is commonly cultivated in the Southern USA. [1][2][3] Native to Africa, teff is a warm-season grass that is high in fibre and low in sugars and starch.

The digestible energy content of teff hay varies from high to low, depending on growing conditions and crop management strategies. Teff hay can have variable levels of starch and sugar, together known as hydrolyzable carbohydrates (HC).

Due to the variable HC content, obtaining a forage analysis is recommended before feeding teff hay to horses. Low-HC teff provides a safe forage option for metabolic horses.

Other benefits of feeding teff to horses include its palatability, high fibre content, and digestibility. [4][5]

What is Teff Hay?

Teff (Eragrostis tef), also known as summer lovegrass or annual lovegrass, is an ancient staple grain crop from Ethiopia, originally grown for human consumption. It is an annual grass that germinates quickly and is resistant to pests. [6]

Referred to as a warm-season grass, teff grows best at temperatures between 18 to 27 degrees Celsius (65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit). [7]

Bermudagrass, crabgrass, Sudan grass, and pearl millet are also warm-season grasses. Cool-season grasses include orchard grass, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, timothy, and perennial ryegrass.

Successfully cultivated in parts of the southern United States, teff grows rapidly and can be cut multiple times to maximize yield. Under optimal conditions, it produces a high yield of approximately 5 tons per acre. [1][2][3]

Teff requires a frost-free growing season. It adapts well to various soil types, including drought-stressed and waterlogged soils, and is tolerant to different soil salinity levels. [1][2][3]

Primarily used as a hay crop in the USA, teff grass has fine leaves and stems, making it a palatable option for horses. It is also useful as a low-HC forage source (depending on when it is cut) and has moderate amounts of energy and protein.

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Nutritional Composition of Teff Hay

Many factors impact teff hay’s nutritional composition, including the variety of plant species, time of day, seasonal growth patterns, plant maturity, and management factors.

Digestible Energy

Compared to cool-season grasses and legumes, teff is typically lower in digestible energy (DE).

Digestible energy content of forage is calculated from its protein and fibre c