Feeding free choice roundbails.
   

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Feeding free choice roundbails.

This is a discussion on Feeding free choice roundbails. within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • How long a round bail lasts for 1 horse
  • Can you put a round bale in the pasture for one horse?

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    09-10-2012, 10:33 PM
  #1
Green Broke
Feeding free choice roundbails.

I know I totally posted about this a few months back but would just like some clarification. I've moved my horses to a place where I do self care and therefore take care of my own hay. We decided round bails would be alot more cost effective and easier then throwing squares. There are currently 3 horses in the 2 acre pasture and one might be leaving which would only leave 2 horses during the winter. They're only on grass in the summer because the pasture is so big and they do well on it but want some clarification on what to do.

I know I've read that when you first put out the bails that they will basically gorge themselves until they learn that the round bail isn't going to move. Could this pose a problem for my fat pony who's muzzled during the summer for half the day? The vet said it shouldn't be an issue because is harder for horses to founder on hay and she'll burn off most of the fat trying to keep warm.

Second question is -when do I know when to start putting out bails? Should I introduce it slowly? (which I'm not sure how I'd do that) should I feed it once all the grass dies? It's in the low 40s this week at night and they're already starting to grow a coat. Is the grass still doing the job or is it time for hay to be set in? They're never cold in the mornings but I worry!

Also, regardless my mare will eat any type of hay. I bought some 2 year old seconding cutting for cheap just to use to bring to the show and she gobbled it but got tired of it by the end of the day. When I first got her, for 3 days straight she ate bale after bale nonstop. She's a vacuum. But with the two yr old second cutting I can imagine it tasting like nothing now anyway so no wonder she got tired of it. usually she's a hay monster and I have to muzzle her on grass now.

ETA- another somewhat random question. I had bought some 2 yr old seconding cutting to use to bring to my last show. It's good hay just not much nutritional value left or should I buy a bale of the same stuff my rounds are made out of? Especially because the rounds I'm getting are from a different supplier then what they were eating last year. I want to get a bale of the new stuff so she'll atleast have had it once before I just drop a round bale in there pasture but am always worried about her foundering or colicing especially before shows because I muzzle her usually except on show days. We leave too early for her to have a muzzle on for long enough.
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    09-11-2012, 12:08 AM
  #2
Started
If you drop a round bale in a pasture with good grass, most horses will take the grass.

If you can, build a small pen to put the bale in. Make sure it's big enough that several horses can get around it while they're finding their spots to eat. That way, you can regulate the amount of time they have access to the bale.
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    09-11-2012, 04:20 AM
  #3
Green Broke
They'll have a round bale feeder.
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    09-11-2012, 04:20 AM
  #4
Weanling
With only two horses on a round bale, unless you're able to place it under any man made or natural shelter, the hay may not weather well during rainy periods so even with a 500 pound round bale you may have a lot of waste. I would consider where you want to put the hay and if you can "park" it under any type of shelter that will be beneficial.

If the two horses have different dietary needs, I.e., if your pony is prone to overweight and founder, the type of hay you buy may work well for one horse and not the other. Since you're the one feeding, if you find that your pony's getting too heavy being free-fed, even in Winter, you can always cover the round bales, store them outside the pasture and pitchfork their feedings two or 3 times a day. I personally like having free choice hay in the Winter since it helps them stay warm.

As for the two-year old hay, if it was put up nicely, was good quality to start, clean of mold, dirt, animal droppings etcetera, and kept stored indoors, there's certainly nothing wrong with feeding it.

I realize your vet said it's not possible for a horse to founder on hay, but that unfortunately is far from correct. Every horse and pony is unique and I would keep a close watch if he's prone to founder, regardless of the time of year. Also, grasses can be high in protein as well as contain clover and alfalfa which can founder a prone horse or pony. Some orchard grass, for example, can be higher in protein than alfalfa. All depends where and who you buy from.
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    09-11-2012, 05:01 AM
  #5
Green Broke
She isn't prone to founder. Sorry of I made it sound that way. She's just fat and I worry about founder being she's a pony. She's at an ideal weight now according to the vet and she told me to not worry they'll burn off most of that weight by staying warm. And the round bail will be under there turnout shed which is huge and can fit 8 horses comfortably.
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    09-11-2012, 05:25 AM
  #6
Weanling
If you want to upload a photo to ask for any feedback on the pony's weight, maybe that will give you some other opinions to go by, if you think your pony is fat but your vet says her weight is ideal.

As far as when to supplement them with hay, if neither horse is in fact overweight and they are telling you they need supplemented hay, that's when you provide it. If you don't think they need a full round you can always pitchfork some in as needed rather than put a whole round out right away.
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    09-11-2012, 05:48 AM
  #7
Green Broke
That was the problem opposed with the squares. I was feeding my horses at 4 am being I have to be in at work at 6. Then I was told im not aloud to feed that early because we were 'waking up' the son in law or whatever. So therefore my boyfriend has to feed before he goes to work so forking off hay isn't really an option especially because I won't have anywhere to store it close to the barn.

My pony has a big fat gass belly. She's always had the big belly but you can feel her ribs. I think she's fine the way she is but to me I always call her fat because her bellys just big and sags because we also think she may have had a foal in her past. I'm sure if I post a picture everyone would say she's overweight or looks wormy. She's not. Just got a huge belly. Let me see if I can get a picture up from recently.


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    09-11-2012, 06:10 AM
  #8
Weanling
She doesn't appear fat to me at all, especially coming into Winter since you mentioned her coat's growing in.

It sounds like you're left with a "one option" situation. If there are only 2 horses on 2 acres, and it's into September, I don't think you have to worry. What a precious picture of you both, thank you for sharing it :)
     
    09-11-2012, 06:17 AM
  #9
Green Broke
Heres a picture so you can see more of her belly


And thank you for the kind words!
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    09-11-2012, 10:41 AM
  #10
Trained
She is not fat
Her belly might go down a bit with the second cut hay, since it's normally not as coarse.

For the roundbale feeding Google "slowfeeder roundbale hay nets. They can pull out only a little at a time, which is more natural and said to improve weight either way and it'll save hay, since it can't be trampled and peed and pooped on.
     

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