Teff pasture provides the fiber and protein for Anderson’s horses. “Teff is more protein balanced and the horses get the fiber they need. They like to munch on it.”

Anderson’s rescue horses range in age from a yearling to a 35-year old. They range from thoroughbreds she has rescued from race tracks to a pony. All of her animals were abandoned or abused before she took them in.

Teff is a tall, willowy annual grass that is easy for horses and other animals to graze. That is important because with Bermudagrass, horses and other animals often digest dirt when they graze the low growing Bermuda.

CSUF is conducting horse feeding trials with the Teff. Griffin said dairymen are also testing it as a replacement forage. Bruce Roberts, agronomy professor at CSUF, believes Teff likely would be a replacement for dry cow hay quality alfalfa.

However, for now, it is the equine audience that is the target market of the annual grass in the valley. Teff has proven comparable in quality with Timothy hay, often called “race horse hay” because it is associated with the thoroughbred business in Kentucky and the Southeast.

Griffin said Teff is catching on in that area as well as in the Phoenix area and in southeastern New Mexico. around Artesia.

The American Horse Council estimates there are about 700,000 horses in California. Unofficial estimates have put the number as high as 1.5 million. Regardless, the horse hay and pasture business is significant.

According to the council, the California horse industry produces goods and services valued at $4.1 billion annually. The national industry has a $7 billion impact on the California economy when the multiplier effect of spending by industry suppliers and employees is taken into account.

311,100 Californians are involved in the industry as horse owners, service providers, employees and volunteers.

The California horse industry directly provides 54,200 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs. Spending by suppliers and employees (in California and other states) generates additional jobs in California for a total employment impact of 130,200.