Cost Efficient Winter Feeding?... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 08-01-2013, 05:37 AM Thread Starter
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Cost Efficient Winter Feeding?...

So I'm at a what if moment here, I start work in August and I am going to put in $50.00 to $150.00 towards alfa alfa hay. The cost of hay so far here is 13.50 a bale im not sure how much im gonna get with all that money but the least i can do is try. My worry here is, if i don't get enough hay to last me the winter, how can i make the hay last to keep my horse healthy?. Does anyone have any suggestions that could help me last this winter and make my horse more comfortable during the winter seasons?
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post #2 of 30 Old 08-01-2013, 07:31 AM
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I just put $160 in hay in my barn for hay for the winter, at $4.50 a 50lb bale of grass hay....and will do that at least one more time before haying season is over, so look toward the higher range. If you aren't feeding hard feed at all then free range hay and a ration balancer may keep her up. Mine gets free range and a good meal twice a day, with alfalfa thrown in and is kept blanketed, so she doesn't burn calories keeping warm.
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post #3 of 30 Old 08-01-2013, 07:36 AM
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If you do not have the money to feed a horse, you have no business owning one. $50-$150 in hay will not last you a month, let alone through the whole winter. We will spend over $2500 for 5 horses for October-May hay. That's $500 per horse. And that does not include the grain I'll go though.
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post #4 of 30 Old 08-01-2013, 10:44 AM
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At 13.50 a bale with only 150 dollars for hay that's only 11 bales you can buy with that money. Your going to need way more then 11 bales. For 3 horses I put up 36 round bales and 400 square bales. This spring every hay supplier sold every bale they had. I sure as hell don't want to run out come march.

Iv got way more hay then needed but don't want my horses going hungry either winter lasted way longer then most expected. So a lot of people ran out of hay this spring. Better to have to much hay then not enough.
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post #5 of 30 Old 08-01-2013, 11:27 AM
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If it gets cold in the winter you really can't replace hay. Lots of forage is what they eat to keep warm. We go through a round bale in 6-7 days in the dead of winter for 4 horses.
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post #6 of 30 Old 08-01-2013, 11:40 AM
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My square bales are between 50 - 65 lbs and I average a half a bale per horse per day.

They also get Hoffman's supplements, free choice salt and soaked beet pulp daily in the winter months.

You have to weigh the hay, not just figure out "x number of bales". You should also be getting a bit extra, for those extra cold days.

To reduce wastage, have some sort of feeder to stop the horse from pawing it, defacating on it, generally wasting it. That is the most cost efficient way to manage your hay.

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post #7 of 30 Old 08-01-2013, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by CLaPorte432 View Post
If you do not have the money to feed a horse, you have no business owning one. $50-$150 in hay will not last you a month, let alone through the whole winter.
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I am very sorry that you have not studied up on horse-keeping.
I use ~ 320 (55-60 pound) bales of any kind of hay/November-April. My horses are on full pasture the other months of the year, AND they are just this side of being overweight.
If you can't afford the hay, HOW can you afford worming this year, shots and anything else?!?!?
Alfalfa is NOT the only hay, nor is it considered to best hay to feed horses. It was planted and harvested bc it puts down 3' roots or deeper and can survive droughts on the high plains, PLUS, cattle fatten up well on it. For horses it is VERY RICH, and I prefer to buy alfalfa hay that is one year old bc it is still good horse hay, but it isn't as high in protein.
HORSES NEED LOW PROTEIN FOOD and LOTS OF IT. They eat ~8 small meals/day and their gut is healthiest if it is LOW PROTEIN WITH HIGH FIBER.
There is more than one place to shop for hay. Have you looked around to see if anybody else sells quality hay for less than $13.50/bale? My hay man is selling grass bales $4.50/bale and alfalfa-grass mix bales for $5.50/bale. LAST YEAR during the drought he sold straight alfalfa to me for $6/bale, and that's bc the drought dried up all of the grass in those fields and they had to be reseeded this year. SOME locals spent $11/bale in November, 2012.
I had 80 bales left from last year's purchase, and I buy by the truckload--MY trucks, my unload and stack. Hay storage is a BIG DEAL. I have room in my barn's loft for ~500 bales. I store my hay, my straw and my bedding in my loft, and I try to buy THOSE ahead of time so I don't run out.
PLEASE educate yourself and don't starve your horses.
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post #8 of 30 Old 08-01-2013, 12:43 PM
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At least in my area, baled hay is the cheapest way to feed a horse. Grass hay here goes for $4-6 for a 60 lb bale on average if you buy it when it's harvested (now). I plan on 20 lbs a day for my horse, or ~10 bales per month. Count on at least 1.5% of your horse's body weight in hay each day, more if your winters are harsh or your horse is a hard keeper. Alfalfa has more energy than grass hay and may help your horse keep weight on if he's a hard keeper, but even if he's not he will still need 1.5% or more of his weight in forage.

If you start running low on hay, you can supplement with bagged forage products (grass or alfalfa pellets or cubes, or beet pulp), but this will cost you more money in the long run, takes more effort to feed, and doesn't have the long stem fibers that are crucial for gut health.

You can help the hay stretch a little bit more by putting into a slow feeder net as well. This help lessen waste and slower consumption is healthier for the horse, too.

This is the right time of year to make sure you have enough hay stored away for the winter, so do what you can to get enough hay now. If you can find hay later in the year it will be more expensive!
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post #9 of 30 Old 08-01-2013, 12:44 PM
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Blanketing can keep feed costs down if it is very cold. If you have absolutely no other way to get more real hay in the winter, you can buy bagged pelleted or cubed hay and feed it in lots of small meals alongside whatever hay you have left. This is very non-ideal, and more expensive overall, but if you are just now saving for hay, it may be your only choice. In future, you need to set aside at least $100 per horse per month all year long. I go through about 300 bales of grass hay for two horses every year, so multiply by your local cost, divide by 12 and set aside at least that much. You also probably need a bagged feed to add when it is cold, which could cost even more. Do you maybe have avet emergency fund you could break in to?

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post #10 of 30 Old 08-01-2013, 12:55 PM
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One, you don't need alfalfa hay. Two, I spend at least $105 a MONTH on grass mix hay, and that's with bales at $3.50 each. I buy 30 bales a month, sometimes more, depending on the severity of the weather.

Since it's summer and I have pasturage, the horses are only getting 1/2 bale a day for all 3 of them. It's just to make me feel better, and give them something other than grass to eat. In the winter they'll all get 1/2 bale each per day, if not more.

I go through 450 bales a year for 3 horses, so you should buy at least 150 bales per year for your one horse.

I'm not aware that Idaho's in drought conditions, so you should be able to find grass mix square bales at decent prices. I'd think no more than $5 a bale, but I could be mistaken.
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