Free choice hay -how much? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 15 Old 01-09-2011, 09:51 AM Thread Starter
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Free choice hay -how much?

I need to start giving my horse free choice hay. She was getting four flakes a day before and doing well, but now with winter the grass has died back. It is hard to admit it, but I think she got ulcers. It must have been from a combination of not enough hay and not enough exercise (the pastures are locked in the winter. I am working to find a better place to board her)

I have been giving her lots of extra hay for the past week and she is already doing much better. I need to find out how much hay to ask the barn feeders to give her each day so that she always has some available. I believe my hay is timothy. My filly is 14.2 hands, roughly 1000 pounds, and a very easy keeper. She gets a small portion of safe choice and a supplement twice a day along with her hay.

Does anyone know about how much hay a horse this size would need every day? Unfortunately nobody I know feeds hay free choice so I have no one to ask.
Also, is it possible to give her too much hay? Should I add more hay into her diet slowly?

Thank you very much in advance :)
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post #2 of 15 Old 01-09-2011, 09:59 AM
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Free choice means just that... hay in front of them at all times. I feed big rounds and the horses have access 24/7
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post #3 of 15 Old 01-09-2011, 10:09 AM
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Just keep adding until there is alittle left at the next feeding for some horses that size this will be 10lbs and for some it will be 20lbs it really depends on the horse

I have been called the NSC Nazi more then once ... I hate traditional feed methods of loading our horses up on grains and junk food :)
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post #4 of 15 Old 01-09-2011, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both. It is nice to have some clarification :)
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post #5 of 15 Old 01-09-2011, 02:04 PM
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Exactly what Peggy Sue said. Keep adding flakes until she starts leaving some, then back off one flake. Anytime you notice her with all her hay cleaned up between feedings, add a flake back.
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post #6 of 15 Old 01-09-2011, 04:14 PM
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As a basic guide, horses should have around 2% of their body weight daily in roughage, dry weight.
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post #7 of 15 Old 01-13-2011, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peggysue View Post
Just keep adding until there is alittle left at the next feeding for some horses that size this will be 10lbs and for some it will be 20lbs it really depends on the horse
Hey lady!!!!! Fancy seeing you here ...my fav horse feed lady ever!!

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post #8 of 15 Old 01-13-2011, 09:08 PM
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I would start with 30 lbs of hay a day and see how she does with that (that's 3% of her body weight). It would be best if she could have three feedings a day, but I understand if your boarding situation doesn't allow it. To figure out how many flakes, find out how much a bale weighs and divide that by how many flakes are normally in a bale.

It's easy with ours as they generally weigh 55-60 lbs, so I just feed everyone 1/2 a bale. That's not feed choice with my guys though, they can eat that up pretty quickly. I spread my hay out all over the pasture, so they have to go from flake to flake to eat, mimmicking grazing. For free choice, some of mine would need just more than half a bale and others would need a whole bale a day. But, most of mine are fatties that don't need that much hay... I do feed round bales sometimes, but most of my horses end up too fat. I'm thinking of trying a slow-feeder net with my next batch of round bales.
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post #9 of 15 Old 01-13-2011, 09:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvs2ride1979 View Post
I would start with 30 lbs of hay a day and see how she does with that (that's 3% of her body weight). It would be best if she could have three feedings a day, but I understand if your boarding situation doesn't allow it. To figure out how many flakes, find out how much a bale weighs and divide that by how many flakes are normally in a bale.

It's easy with ours as they generally weigh 55-60 lbs, so I just feed everyone 1/2 a bale. That's not feed choice with my guys though, they can eat that up pretty quickly. I spread my hay out all over the pasture, so they have to go from flake to flake to eat, mimmicking grazing. For free choice, some of mine would need just more than half a bale and others would need a whole bale a day. But, most of mine are fatties that don't need that much hay... I do feed round bales sometimes, but most of my horses end up too fat. I'm thinking of trying a slow-feeder net with my next batch of round bales.
Slow feeders work really well.

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post #10 of 15 Old 01-31-2011, 08:14 PM
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We just switched out horses to free choice. We'd been feeding the five horses two bales per day: one bale in the morning, 1/3 bale in the afternoon, 2/3 bale in the evening along with a ration of canola and rice bran. They'd been gaining weight during the summer and losing a bit in the winter. One reason we decided to switch to free choice was to try and keep their weight more stable.

Here's how it's gone so far . . .

Saturday: no hay left over from Friday, fed four bales.
Sunday: 1/2 bale left over, fed two bales.
Monday: none left over, fed two bales, will feed another tonight.

I think it will work out to just over two bales per day once they have stabilized and are used to the new routine. We still give them their ration of canola/rice. Plus supplements, of course.

Have others recently switched to free choice? Or remember what happened when they switched? I'm curious if what we've been seeing is about normal.

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