Feeding twice a day or free choice?

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Feeding twice a day or free choice?

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    08-04-2011, 12:05 PM
Feeding twice a day or free choice?

This question does not apply to easy keepers...do you feed hay/grain twice a day or free choice hay? What about in winter? Why? What studies do you use to back it up?
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    08-04-2011, 12:06 PM
...also, this question is for horses that are NOT on pasture.
    08-04-2011, 12:56 PM
You're asking about hard keepers, correct?

IMO, the best thing for a hard keeper is to make sure they have free choice hay in front of them at all times, free access to a mineral/salt block, and if you want to add more calories feed them beet pulp at least twice a day. More frequently would be better, but twice a day is okay.

As far as 'studies' to back me up, the only thing I have to go on are my 33 years of experience in owning horses. If you're looking for actual, published, verifiable data, you'll need to check professional and scientific publications.
    08-04-2011, 01:17 PM
Green Broke
Hay and grain are, imo, two separate categories and I treat them as such. I can't imagine providing "free choice" grain to a horse under any circumstance. We feed grain (I use a beet pulp/alf pellet mix w/ top dress of rice bran) twice a day to our hard keeper and not at all to our easy keeper. Hay, though, is provided in abundance -- we do "free choice" for our hard keeper by checking her manger 2-3 times per day and topping off as needed. Both have access to the pasture 24/7 and when it is not providing enough grazing for the easy keeper (mini), we supplement her with hay 2-3 times per day.
The "studies" I use are my own experience as well as input from fellow horsemen/women I trust and my veterinarians (past and present).
    08-04-2011, 05:38 PM
Yes, I was refering to hay as free choice, thanks for your responses! So...feeding hay twice a day is not something you would ever think is ok (for your average horse)? I would like my horse to have free choice hay but they feed 2 x a day and plan to do this when winter comes too.
    08-04-2011, 05:42 PM
The best case scenario is free choice hay, but not everyone has that option.

My horses are easy keepers, and only fed twice a day. If I didn't have to work I'd probably feed them smaller meals more often and keep hay in front of them at all times, but I don't have that luxury.

Are you boarding or do you have your horses at home? If you're boarding, you're not likely to convince a BO that they need to keep hay in front of your horses continuously, unless you're willing to pay extra for it.
    08-04-2011, 10:44 PM
Thanks for the replies. I wouldn't mind paying extra for one more feeding, but I don't know how it would go over. I know I would like free choice in the winter for sure.
    08-05-2011, 09:38 AM
Free choice hay or keeping the hay feeder topped off especially in the Winter is the best for a horse. In the cold Winter months hay helps warm the horse internally. Comparative to a horse's body mass the stomach of a horse is very small. That is why the best case scenario is to feed small amounts of grain supplements at least twice a day and if possible smaller amounts more frequently. The twice a day routine is sufficient for grain supplementing.

In horses the digestion of feed whether it be hay or grain supplements does not happen in the stomach, but in their hind gut/intestines.
    08-05-2011, 09:48 AM
To lay your mind to rest - there are a whole boat load of horses that live at boarding barns all over the place that are hayed their two flakes of hay 2x per day that do just fine on that.

Is it optimal? Probably not. But your horse will be fine.

I have all easy keepers - mine are hayed 2x per day (I am work all day). I use small hole hay nets so their hay lasts them a little longer.

It never hurts to ask the barn owner if you can pay for a mid day hay feeding.
    08-05-2011, 12:50 PM
Green Broke
I typically fill hay bags twice a day, and I feed twice a day. If I kept them in hay all day my two would eat me out of house and home.
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