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Free choice hay -how much?

This is a discussion on Free choice hay -how much? within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category

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        01-31-2011, 09:34 PM
    Hi Sailor, when I switched to free choice my horse was very inconsistent at first. (Thanks to everyone for helping me find where to start!)

    For the fist few days my horse ate a lot of hay until she learned that it would always be there for her. Now she has a pile in her stall/pasture and she just takes a bite every few minutes. She is a small horse so she eats about half of a bale every day.

    I would give you some advice but I'm still learning too.
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        01-31-2011, 10:40 PM
    Thanks Pixie. The Mrs. Is pretty concerned about the amount of hay they've eaten in the last couple of days and is worried about continuing with free choice. I keep telling her they'll settle down and be back to what they ate before, about. Sounds like your experience is about what I'm expecting and what I tell her to expect.

        01-31-2011, 10:50 PM
    Originally Posted by SailorGriz    
    Thanks Pixie. The Mrs. Is pretty concerned about the amount of hay they've eaten in the last couple of days and is worried about continuing with free choice. I keep telling her they'll settle down and
    Hi, just depending on the horse & the way you feed, there may be a lot of wastage. Throwing it on the ground or leaving a round bale out, one of my ponies used to pee on it, paw it around & lie on it, just leave it uneaten.... and one of my horses used to just stand there(with his head inside the round bale) & gorge on it. I took to feeding hay in boxes, hay nets, etc, so it couldn't be wasted or gorged upon.
        02-01-2011, 01:54 PM
    My four eat on average about three a day when I am throwing squares...

    Sometimes they will eat four sometimes two depending on weather.. I also throw one flake per pile... so I spread it all out as far as feasible any given day depends on mud/snow/ or whatever
        02-03-2011, 07:25 PM
    Just an update after a week or so . . .

    I feed a full bale in the morning, a half bale in the afternoon, a full bale in the evening. This week we've been lucky with weather cold enough to leave the horses out in field so I've been spreading the hay out one or two flakes per pile over a large area. At each feeding there is generally just a touch of the last feeding left--which means they are getting what they want and not wasting too much.

    2 1/2 bales seems about right for our horses. We have six, total, but one doesn't have any teeth left so he doesn't really eat much hay--maybe a few pounds per day. Which means the others are averaging close to 25 pounds per day which seems about right.

    Bad news is that we probably don't have enough hay for the rest of the season. The good news is that we expected that when we got the sixth horse (a boarder) and knew we'd have to get another ton, at least. Maybe we'll just get two and not have to worry about it.

    Tomorrow it's supposed to warm up and rain so we'll have to stop putting the horses out. Rats. They do too much damage to the pasture when it's muddy. Hopefully, they'll play nice at meal time and I can just put the hay in the feeder. Before we tried free choice we had to make separate piles for each horse plus one extra. We'll see how it goes!

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