Join Date: May 2009
Location: Mid Northern TN
How much you need to feed and whether or not you need beet pulp depends on your horses. If the horses are in good shape, the general starting guideline is 2% of the horses weight in hay per day, preferably split into two or more feedings. So, for a 1000lb horse, that's 20lbs a day, with half in the morning and half in the evening. A ration balancer (which is really just a pelleted vitamin mineral supplement) is generally a good idea to make up anything nutrition-wise the hay may be lacking.
A skinny horse may need more hay, and generally if you're trying to get them fatter, giving them all the hay they can eat is the best first step. If that's not enough, then you can start adding in beet pulp, rice bran, grain, or whatever other calorie supplement you like. If they're too fat, you can cut back on hay, but never give them less than 1% of their body weight per day (10lbs for a 1000lb horse) or you put them at risk of colic and other issues.
Yes, this means you will have to weigh your hay to figure out how many 'flakes' equal what weight. This is important because depending on the kind of hay and bale size and how tight it was baled, a flake might only weigh half a pound, or it might be more than 15 lbs!
ETA: And welcome to the forum! I was a nervous wreck when I first had to take care of my boy- it can be quite a learning curve!
Last edited by Sharpie; 01-01-2013 at 02:50 PM.