Winter Hay Feedings

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by Avalancheé, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. Avalancheé

    Avalancheé Registered

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    Hi. I have a couple of questions regarding how much to feed my horse during the winter.

    I live in southeast Michigan where there’s been little to no snow. It’s been around 25-40 degrees. Our pasture isn’t the greatest and my horse won’t get much nutrients from it. A lot of it is weeds and dead grass now. She gets a whole bale per day in a slow feed net and about a cup of grain just to mix in with her joint supplement once a day. The bales weigh about 35-40 pounds each. One bale lasts her one day. Due to my previous busy schedule, she is fed hay once a day. But now taking a couple of online classes, I now have more free time, but only after 12 pm.

    I heard that the rule of thumb is that a horse eats about 2-2.5% of their bodyweight. I’m pretty sure 2.5% of my horse’s body weight isn’t 35-45lbs. She’s a leanly built 15 hand horse with a bit of chunkiness (or maybe it’s her coat making her look chunky).

    Also, our financial situation isn’t doing so well which is forcing me to rehome her. We have no source of income right now, so properly rationing our hay will help save money a lot rather than letting $6/day be inhaled so easily.

    I think I remember trying to give her a smaller ration of hay (about half a bale), but she went through it so quickly, even with a slow feed net.

    Am I over feeding her? Is there a better feeding schedule to better ration hay? How long is it okay for my horse to go without forage in the winter (or a better way to slow her down)? What are your suggestions? I understand how weather can factor a lot of how much she needs. When the weather’s nasty or really cold, I put her hay nets inside the barn with extra hay.

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. Puddincup

    Puddincup Senior Member

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    For my 14.3 mare at 1000 lbs, she is getting about 25 pounds a day, that’s about half a bale a day. She’s also on feed and maintains her weight really well.


    Just depends on your horse and your hay quality. You could try a hay net with smaller holes or like mentioned you could feed more than once a day to make sure she’s not standing around for too many hours before eating again.
     
  3. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    The amount of hay you're supposed to give is between 1.5 and 2.0% of the animal's body weight. Since then it seems people have been 'creeping it up' to 2.0-2.5%.

    You can use a weight tape to estimate the horse's weight. And you can weigh the hay to get an accurate amount of how much you are feeding.

    Let's say your 15 hand horse's ideal weight is 1000 lbs. She would get about 20 lbs a day of hay. Usually that's half a bale.

    The thing is though, that 1.5-2.0% of body weight is a starting point.

    That's where you start.

    Then you're always looking at the condition of the horse to make any adjustments.

    The horse may need more hay if it's very cold out, if it's a very easy keeper and not getting much work, it might get too fat on that amount.



     
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  4. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Blanket the horse and keep it warm and feed it free choice hay. Horses have to keep eating to stay warm.

    Imagine you are outside all day, you're cold. What do you want? Food.
     
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  5. Avalancheé

    Avalancheé Registered

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    I will add in that she is a very easy keeper and is not working at all. She’s been a pasture pet for a couple of months now.
     
  6. Kristal H

    Kristal H Senior Member

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    Can you get the large round bales? They are often less expensive.

    Blanketing with a good waterproof turnout will definety help reduce the calories needed to stay Warm.
     
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  7. CarlisleChipper

    CarlisleChipper Senior Member+

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    I second round bales. One round bale lasts a month for one horse and is about $100 I put them in slow feed nets. Horses should have forage 24/7 and should not go more than 8 hours without hay. You could double up a slow feed net to make it slower feed.
    $1200 a year compared to over $2100.

    I don’t have a tractor or hay buddy. I have them put it in my horse trailer and roll it out into my storage cube. One can fit in the back of a truck. Or you could pay for delivery which would still be cheaper annually than feeding squares. You could feed a flake of alfalfa per day as well in place of grain to lower costs.
     
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  8. Avalancheé

    Avalancheé Registered

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    I wish I could get round bales I know it’s much more cost friendly but at this time of year, it’s especially hard to find nearby areas that deliver round bales. I wish I would’ve stocked up on roundbales earlier but I didn’t know I’d still have her over the winter.

    Also, the double netting sounds like a great idea!

    And for blankets, what kind of fill do you guys recommend? I could probably get waterproof one for a cheaper price than new at our local used tack shop. It’s recently hit 19 degrees this morning and she already got a nice thick coat.
     
  9. Kristal H

    Kristal H Senior Member

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    Chicks saddlery is a great place to get clearance blankets you can often find a 1200 denier blanket for under $50. You probably should get a Medium and then get a stable blanket or liner to add extra warmth when needed.
     
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  10. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    How much fill? It depends on where you live and what the conditions are. But many well-fed horses only need a waterproof cover. My friend in usually-very-warm Seattle just had turnout sheets with no fill, for her horses. They were fine all winter.

    I put more 'warm' on my old horses. Even if they aren't thin, they seem to get colder. It seems to help them cope with the extreme cold we can get here. It's often in the 20s, windy and blowing snow here in winter. And some of our 'not so cold' days are pretty damp and miserable. Especially since I want them outside as much as possible, mine get bundled up pretty well and seem comfortable even in the worst weather.

    My Welsh Pony is 20 and has Cushing Syndrome, and boy does he look cute in his puffy winter turnout rug and hood. My Warmblood mare is the same age but she copes with the bad weather quite well. She has a waterproof turnout sheet and a winter blanket with insulation under it. My young horse has a waterproof turnout sheet and a heavy, old style Baker blanket for warmth - and a very thick long winter coat.

    Quite often you can do well by buying a waterproof 'turnout sheet.' If you buy a used turnout sheet and water doesn't 'bead up' and slide off it, sometimes a few spray bottles of Scotch Guard will make the turnout sheet waterproof again. Hint - it takes more Scotch Guard than you'd think! And the blanket needs to 'air out' in a dry, warm place for some hours after you spray it.

    Hint - don't wash them in hot water or put them in a clothes dryer. 'Field washing' - a rinse with a hose spray - and hanging them up to dry in a warm place will keep the waterproofing in good shape.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019 at 7:25 AM
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