Types of Grass & Hay

Herbivore animals eat hay as the dominate food in their diet. Hay is made of numerous grass varieties and often encompasses more then one variety per bale to make a balanced nutritional animal forage. Grass varieties are baled, cubed, chopped or served in pellets to produce hay. Grasses used to make hay often have dual purposes and can easily serve as a landscape lawn or durable turf. Other varieties are produced solely as an animal forage.


Alfalfa is a highly productive perennial legume that produces up to six tons of hay per acre, according to the University of Missouri. It is grown solely for producing animal forage hay and serves no purpose in the home landscape. Once planted, a field of hay will easily last five years with the capability of producing numerous cuttings for baling. A hardy grass variety, alfalfa grows best in fertile soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6. A field of alfalfa can serve dual purpose and easily act as both a crop and as a foraging location for livestock or horses.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is treasured as a livestock hay and in the home landscape for its dark green lawns. The grass grows as a perennial in most regions of the United States, except the southern states. The grass dominates as the leading pasture grass throughout the United States and Canada, according to Self Sufficient Farm Living. More than 100 cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass are available, as noted by Texas A & M University. Blending varieties often allows for a hardier turf. In areas of drought, the grass requires regular irrigation to flourish.


Perennial fescue grass offers durability and ease of growth for turf, lawns and forage. The grass often grows where other grasses fail, such as in deep wetlands, marsh areas and locations susceptible to flooding. Wet soil conditions do not bother the grass. Fescue also offers superior drought tolerance. The grass grows easily in a wide range of soil conditions. It has a reputation of growing in heavy clay where other grasses often fail. Fescue grows well throughout most of the United States but does not tolerate the heat and humidity of southern states.

Rye Grass

Annual rye grass is used throughout the southern states as a livestock forage during the winter. The grass is also grown widely throughout the Pacific Northwest in pastureland and as a hay crop. The grass grows an erect bunch grass. It reaches a height of 3 to 4 feet with ease. From May to June, the grass produces flowers that quickly turn to abundant seed. Germination occurs in cool soil conditions where many other grass fail to germinate. The grass grows best in regions that offer long, cool, moist conditions, according to the Oregon State University.

Keywords: grass varieties, hay varieties, grass for hay

About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.