Trying it the hay way! - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 23 Old 08-21-2009, 09:35 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
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I'd love to see some before pics and some after pics (in a couple of months). In the course of my internship I've been interviewing quite a few people about why they feed grain to their horses (very few people had actual reasons). Yesterday I met with my Equine Nutrition professor who is also the "go-to" person for hard equine nutrition problems (if she doesn't know she finds out) and I actually asked her what she recommends for hard keepers (specifically TBs). She told me the first thing they do is maximize the forage intake preferably so that they have forage in front of them all day and they make sure that the hay is of the best quality they can find. So good luck! Just remember to give it enough time

Oh yeah and I wouldn't worry about the protien thing. Good alfalfa has a protein level of like 20% or and good grass hay (not overly mature stemmy stuff) has a protien level around 18%. Pasture is at 26%, corn 9.4%, and oats are 13.6%. Your horse's protein needs can be met perfectly by hay, providing it is of good quality.

Last edited by MN Tigerstripes; 08-21-2009 at 09:42 AM.
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post #12 of 23 Old 08-21-2009, 10:24 AM
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I am looking forward to the move Nelson and I are going to be doing - going from a small facitilty to an Eventing Facility that is full of TB's like Boo.

Right now, Nelson is out on a pasture that is brown from the lack of rain and no hay, and grain - I ended up having to buy Ultimate Finish 100 to help get the weight back onto him.

The place where we are moving, has round bales 24/7 out in their pastures, including pasture and grain twice a day.

So, I hope in the new environment will help Boo with his weight gain. This new pace is focused on Eventers and TB's like Nelson - so here's hoping.

Not to mention that my riding is going to go up as in quantity and quality being under a trainer who lives on the property *he owns it* going from just a few days a week to 5/6 again.

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post #13 of 23 Old 08-21-2009, 12:00 PM
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In my experience free feeding is the way to go. It keeps horses happy and healthy. After all, they're eating all day - the way horses were made to eat and function! Yum yum! I also agree with what you said Puck, sometimes all of the extra things we feed our horses can affect their metabolism in a negative way.

Good luck, though I am confident that he will improve significantly. I'd also like to see some before and after pics.


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post #14 of 23 Old 08-21-2009, 12:01 PM
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Ergh, that sucks about the crappy pasture and no hay. Is there a reason they aren't putting hay out? I had to buy hay this summer & pull mine off the pasture... no rain so my pasture went all brown and dead.

That sounds like a great move though for both of you. I'm really hoping to get in some good training/riding after I'm out of school for good (be done in December if all goes well!!) I really want to "do something" with Soda besides trail riding (although I enjoy that too).
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post #15 of 23 Old 08-24-2009, 06:21 PM
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This is an interesting article about hay quality.

The Horse | Fiber in Hay: What's the Magic Number?
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post #16 of 23 Old 08-25-2009, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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It's already working!! A week ago we put the round bale in his shelter. He's spent the past week with his face buried in it and only comes up for air and a poop. When he sees me coming, he always picks his head up with a hay beard. He is one happy boy. Last week the weight tape read 1140. Today, one week later, it's 1170. I have pics from day 1 & day 8. They don't show a huge difference, but there's definitely more meat between his ribs and on his butt. There's not as much waste as I'd thought there would be, so that's good. We've cut his grain back to 4 lbs a day, (formerly twice as much). and if he keeps gaining at this pace, we'll be cutting back again.

That's good to hear that the protein content with grass hay is as high at 18%. That's the big thing I was worried about. I ride 6 days a week, so I need to know he has the nutrients available to put and keep muscle on. I will still keep a vitamin supplement in his diet to catch anything he might be missing, but for now I am SOOOO thrilled.

I'll post pics and weights weekly. The top 2 are week 1 and the bottom 2 are today. Thanks for everyone's help on this issue.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Puck Week1a.jpg (45.9 KB, 34 views)
File Type: jpg Puck Week1b.jpg (41.7 KB, 30 views)
File Type: jpg Puck Week2a.jpg (48.7 KB, 33 views)
File Type: jpg PuckWeek2b.jpg (40.6 KB, 32 views)
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post #17 of 23 Old 08-25-2009, 10:19 PM
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He's got a little more coverage over his ribs, doesn't he? Looks like he's gained a wee bit of weight. Thanks for the update, I was wondering how it was going.
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post #18 of 23 Old 08-26-2009, 09:16 AM
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He definitely looks better!

The protein content of grass hay depends on the variety, how it was grown (fertilizers used), and the soil. Around here, bermuda and mixed grass hay run 7-10% in protein. That's why I supplement with alfalfa pellets (15-18% protein). Horses generally need 10-12% total. Grass hay is also low in amino acids, which are needed so the horse utilizes the protein. Alfalfa pellets are high in Lysine, plus I use supplements to add more. It works well!
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post #19 of 23 Old 08-26-2009, 10:51 AM
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You've got lots of tips already.

Remember hay is only so good as the grass it was made from.

1/ Does the horse get cold at night and use up energy keeping warm?
2/ Use a measuring tape around the belly to record the effect of various diets. Keep a daily record.
3/ Worms - when did you last check the worm count?
4/ I thought TBs were supposed to look skinny?

Incidentally getting my Irish Draught mare to lose weight is about as difficult to acheive as getting your TB to put it on. But she never stops eating.
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post #20 of 23 Old 08-26-2009, 12:01 PM
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18% protein grass hay is more of an oddity than the rule. Grass hay will typically be less that 10%, with some being as low as 4-6%. Horses are not cows, but in cattle, hay that is less than about 6.5% protein will actually burn calories in the cow processing it thru the intestine. We test a lot of hay here - every week! Forage tests will suprise you! Many hays that you would imagine would test good, just don't! A forage test is $18. Free choice feeding of rd bales is not a bad idea, but just because you have forage in front of the animal does not mean it will gain weight on the forage. Test the hay! The NDF of the hay is the liimiting factor in how much hay an animal can consume in a day due to the fermeting process that occurs in the hind gut. The more ndf, the slower the hay fermets and the quicker the animal gets a full feeling. Conversly, put a bale of premium alfalfa out, low ndf, animal consumes a lot of hay and bam! he's foundered;.) by the way not all alfalfa is 20-24% protein either
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