Do horses need hay?
   

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Do horses need hay?

This is a discussion on Do horses need hay? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Why does a horse need hay
  • What type of hay do horses need?

 
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    09-27-2009, 07:10 PM
  #1
Weanling
Do horses need hay?

Just curious, if horses have plenty of access to plenty of grass and pasture...do they need hay? The barn that I ride at, I don't think they can afford hay right now. I haven't seen any out there. Only bags of grain. I'm wondering if the horses are lacking in their diet because of the lack of hay? They have acres and acres of grass to graze on for hours on end. Half the horses are turned out at night and the other half during the day
     
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    09-27-2009, 07:24 PM
  #2
Foal
No, its alright some grains have nutrients in them to make the horses healthy, some add minerals in them so it makes the horses energy better hope this helps
     
    09-27-2009, 08:47 PM
  #3
Started
As long as the pasture is adequate they don't need hay.. Having said that, I would not want my horse shut in for 12 hours without any hay. Grain is actually not necessary for most horses.
     
    09-27-2009, 08:53 PM
  #4
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Appyt    
As long as the pasture is adequate they don't need hay.. Having said that, I would not want my horse shut in for 12 hours without any hay. Grain is actually not necessary for most horses.
I agree... Plus, winter is comming and the grass isn't going to be around much longer and they will need hay soon
     
    09-27-2009, 09:42 PM
  #5
Super Moderator
They NEED roughage. So as long as there is plenty of grass, and they are grazing it, they are probably ok. Given a choice between hay and grain I might actually prefer the hay only because I've dealt w/ colic so much with one of my horses. BUT as long as they are eating the grass and maintaining their weights, their poop is healthy, they are probably fine... When winter comes they'll need hay as the grass go's dormant... Otherwise they'll eat the bark off the trees... although... sometimes they do that anyway...
     
    09-28-2009, 06:53 PM
  #6
Weanling
Ok well I guess the reason I'm asking is because there is this thoroughbred out there. I was told by the owner of the horse that he used to be a race horse (that's called a OTTB correct??) anyway, she said he was used to getting alfalfa hay and she cannot afford it but that he is losing weight and she should get him some. But she hasn't. I was going to ride him the other day but he is SO skinny, you can actually see his ribs! I was going to offer to buy some alfalfa hay for him because I can't stand to see him like that and I know someone leases him and she uses him for lessons! He is a picky eater anyway, she's said and I have seen him pick at his grain. I think he gets 3 scoops twice a day and I watched him eat the other day and he just eats slow and sloppy. I know I shouldn't pay for someone else's horse food...but I can't just stand by and watch this horse starve! I wish I knew who she bought him from because I would let them know what condition he is in.
So I called around today to check on prices of alfalfa hay and not too many places sell it, but one place near me does for about $18 a bale. I go out to the barn once or twice a week so I could technically bring out one bale a week for him. I also don't know how much a horse like this would require in hay per week...but something is better than nothing. I ride for free in exchange for working with her halflinger that needs work, I can ride any horse I choose. I would really like to ride this TB because he was used as hunter jumper and all her other horses are either small or western...but I can't see riding him when he is skin and bones!
     
    09-28-2009, 07:16 PM
  #7
Weanling
Sounds like he might need his teeth floated too (the skinny OTTB).

My horse does well in the summer with little to no hay. She is on about 7 acres of grass and she gets a little fat in the summer. I only feed her 1/4 scoop of feed as well (in the summer). She just doesn't need the feed, the grass keeps her looking good.
     
    09-28-2009, 08:08 PM
  #8
Zab
Yearling
At first the title of the thread scared me.. but I see why there might be a question about it now:P

No, horses don't need hay. They are, and always will be, meant to eat grass, herbs and perhaps some leaves and other such thing. When we can't provide enough of that, we give them some sort of hay.

If the hay doesn't contain all of what the horses need, or if it's not balanced in the level of nutrition (like too little protein), we give grain/pellets or other man-made horsefood or supplements, but only if the hay or grass isn't enough.
If the hay is too rich it can be mixed with regulr straw and some supplement might be given to add up for the lack of protein in straw.

Horses need to always have something in their stomachs since they ''leak'' acids in there to care for the food. No food and they sore their insides instead. Grain and other supplement (because that's what all food that's not based on grass/hay should be used as) are not really healthy for horses but can in large quantities poison and even kill them. They're a kind of necessary evil; some horses ned them and of course, given in the right amount they are good to use. :)

But to answer the question; no, horses don't need hay if they have enough grass.
     
    09-28-2009, 09:20 PM
  #9
Super Moderator
I agree with 7p, I think he needs to get his teeth floated, which isn't your responsibility but maybe you can mention it to the owner. The other thing is, it is possible that he is a cribber, watch him and see if you catch him in the act. Alot of OTTB's will pick up that habbit at the track. It is just a possibility worth looking into. I'd de-worm him, again - not your responsibility and then the alfalfa hay is nice but it's not a must, any hay would be helpful....
     
    09-29-2009, 07:02 AM
  #10
Yearling
I agree with the teeth check, although my last horse hadn't had his teeth floated in at least three years and would still suck food in faster than you could put it down lol.

My instructor's horses got one bale of hay when we had a freeze during the winter and that's it. Our grass has been so ridiculously thick that they havn't needed hay (woohoo!!).
     

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