You can manage it in ways to make it last longer and reduce waste. Do you have the ability to have the bale in a place that would be able to be closed off from the horses periodically throughout the day and/or are they worked daily? Either/both will keep them from JUST standing at the round bale stuffing their faces 24/7. Using a hay ring or other feeding device and keeping loosened/scattered hay gathered and put back in/on the main bale will cut the waste factor and stretch the time it lasts too.
An 800lb. Bale feeds mine for 6 days, 8 if I make them pick at the leftovers. This is in cold wet weather. Now it's sunny and dry it lasts 8-10 days because THE GRASS IS GROWING HERE!! Woo hoo! Hang in there people!
I second feeding portions forked over the fence, wayyyy less waste. My horses do look sooo cute napping in it though! Yesterday I couldn't see Rick out there and FREAKED. Ran out in the pasture and he was napping in the shadow so he blended in, he stretched and went back to snoozing! Heart attack. Posted via Mobile Device
General rule of thumb is that a round bale should last 1 horse 1 month. So three horses would need about 3 per month or 1 about every 10 days. Using a feeder does help eliminate waste. Just remember that the bales are usually tightly packed, so as they eat and pull it out, there won't seem like much is getting eaten until the end where it seems to disappear quickly. Not only will that vary with different horses, some are slow eaters and some are piggies, but the quality plays big part.
Honestly, I think it is better for horses to eat from small square bales than a large round bale. They don't have to stick their head as far into the hay to eat. It may be more expensive but the health risks outweigh that. One of our horses got heaves from having to eat moldy hay (we weren't aware of it happening until it was after the fact and not our decision to give them that hay). Since we've used small bales, his heaves have been so much better.
Another reason we use small bales is because we don't have any way to move the large round bales. With the small square bales, we can use a small lawn tractor and trailer. Or we would have to buy a skid steer to move the big ones and that's not in our budget right now. Posted via Mobile Device