Timothy hay, also known as Timothy grass hay, is a native grass from Europe. This rapid-growth perennial bunch grass is believed to have been introduced to North America through seeds brought by early settlers from Scandinavia in the 17th century. It was originally called Herd grass after John Herd found it growing in the wild in New Hampshire in 1711 and began to promote it as a feed for cattle and horses.
Timothy hay picked up its current name from Timothy Hanson, a Swedish immigrant, who began growing and promoting it as a superior fodder for horses in Baltimore, Maryland around 1720. Timothy Hanson is believed to be the first person to grow and sell Timothy seed commercially. Hansen found a good market for Timothy seed in several other colonies outside of Maryland.
Timothy hay has excellent nutritional value for horses, especially when harvested when the seed heads are still young. Its protein level is lower than some other grasses, but is perfectly suited for thoroughbred race horses and pleasure horses.
The original variety of Timothy hay is known as Climax. More recently, several superior varieties such as Colt and Horizon have been introduced. At Esty Ranch we traditionally grew Colt and have recently began inter-seeding our fields with premium quality Horizon. Horizon grows especially well in the high-altitude fields around Gunnison, Colorado. It also grows well with the native high-altitude mountain meadow grasses and clovers that are part of our Timothy grass hay mix.