When to start feeding hay as opposed to just grass?

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When to start feeding hay as opposed to just grass?

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  • When should you start bulking horses feed for winter?
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    09-28-2010, 09:05 PM
Super Moderator
When to start feeding hay as opposed to just grass?

So, currently, Lacey is just eating grass. Her new home (at my neighbor's house) has about 3 acres for her to munch on and it wasn't grazed hardly at all over the summer so there's enough grass for her to eat as much as she wants.

She's also getting a little chubby! But that's ok with me since I'd prefer that she was chunky as opposed to skinny, especially at her age and going into winter.

So, basically, I'm wondering when I should start putting hay out for her... How short should I let the grass get? Right now, since the hay I have for her is pretty yucky (in her opinion. It's basically just baled pasture grass) she wouldn't eat it if I put it out since she has plenty of grass still.
Also, if the grass is mostly all "tall" grass (maybe a few feet tall?) in most places, and since she has 3 acres of it, how soon do you suppose she'll get that all eaten? I haven't seem a real change in the grass length in the two weeks she's been eating on it, so basically I'm wondering if I won't need all that much to get her to next spring with no worries... Maybe a month and a half? Longer? Shorter?

Thanks! I appreciate the help!

Also, for Oregon people: what's a reasonable hay price? I've been told everything from $3.50 a bale for 50lb bales of eastern Oregon (however, the guy knew me somehow and was trying to flirt, so that might have had something to do with the price...hahaha) to $4.50 for some backyard baled stuff...
And then at a feed store they wanted $16 for 120lb bales of Eastern Oregon.
Are my legs being pulled by any of this? I'm thinking, that if I end up not needing all that much hay, the feed store might be my best bet since I really can't store all that much and 120 pounds should last Lacey for a while...
However, I realize that the $3.50 a bale is probably the best deal, but since I can only store about twenty bales at a time... But maybe the guy could help me figure something out, he told me that he would "love" to deliver it. Hahahahaha!

Thanks for any and all help!
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    09-28-2010, 09:15 PM
I would just let her munch on pasture until it looks like she wants something more. LOL I know that's horribly vague but I really can't think of a good way to explain it. During the winter if things start getting a bit dry and brown or if she starts to drop just a little bit of weight, then it wouldn't hurt to start tossing some hay out to her.
    09-28-2010, 09:24 PM
Geez, I pay $13/bale and feed all year long. Maybe I need to rethink this. I'd save an awful lot of money. I'd start throwing your horse some hay when the grass is completely dry, or completely frozen. Just make sure she has foliage accessible.
    09-28-2010, 11:12 PM
I think that 3 acres of tall pasture will last her quite a while. My two have been on about three acres for the last few months (when they got there the grass was to my waist) and they have just recently gotten it down to a few inches. We did end up mowing down the inside perimeter and a stretch down the middle just to get rid of alot of seed head, but they are in no way lacking grass. I haven't given a flake of hay all summer and I don't foresee them needing any for another month or two even though I will be having a third horse out there very soon. They just don't seem to eat faster than the grass can grow. LOL. Other than the senior feed for my newest horse, I am going to be waiting to see when they look as though the pasture isn't quite filling anymore to start supplementing their feed.
I guess, just wait and see when she tells you that the pasture just isn't cutting it anymore.
Sorry, that was long.
    09-29-2010, 02:05 AM
Super Moderator
Actually, this has been very reassuring!
I was actually worried, on the side, that it was "bad" for her to be just eating pasture with no supplementation...I dunno, I guess I'm just so used to feeding horses all the time that to not have to feed her extra seems wrong and possibly cruel. However, that seems to be completely not the case! Yay!

So I guess I'll just go with watching her and not counting my chickens before they hatch by buying a bunch of hay that I may or may not need. I think what maybe I'll do is save up $300 or so and keep that in a safe place as "hay money," then, if it ends up that I do need to get hay (I have six 50lb bales right now) in the future, I'll be completely set, no matter what route I go...

Thank you all!
    09-29-2010, 02:13 AM
I do wonder, does anything ever turn brown up there? All your pictures I have seen seems to have green year around (lucky dog).
    09-29-2010, 02:37 AM
Super Moderator
Originally Posted by smrobs    
I do wonder, does anything ever turn brown up there? All your pictures I have seen seems to have green year around (lucky dog).
Hahaha! Usually, everything is pretty brown from late August to December. However, this last summer was really cool and moist-ish (we had at least 4 days of rain during July-August when we usually get 0, and we only had about one day get above 90 degrees when we usually have a week or two like that) so everything is really green and perfect still! This year has been great weather-wise (not so much for people growing things though...). I am SO not a hot weather person.

And then, since Lacey seems to have learned how to sweat over this last year and she sweats A LOT, I can only imagine what she would have been like if it had been hot out!
    09-29-2010, 04:53 PM
Throw her a flake and see if she eats it... if she does then you need to give her some... I try to keep hay out year round even when mine have pasture... they still seem to "want" it so they get it
    10-01-2010, 04:39 AM

It depends on the pasture a lot, but for one horse, managed properly, you could potentially make it go the distance completely. Not sure where you're from, whether snow or anything, but I had 2 horses & a pony on 4 acres & put them on an elec fence track around it, to be able to reduce their grazing(they all fat) & be able to 'rotate' various areas. Being a circuit track, it also increases their exercise heaps. Grass was only getting low a couple of months back after them being there about 8 months. I put them in another 3 acres to rest it & just put one horse & pony back now, at the start of spring, so there won't be too much grass for them.

As a rule, not wanting to ruin the pasture, I like to rest the areas when they get down to a couple of inches. If the whole paddock's open to her, she'll have her favourite spots tho, that get eaten right down. I would personally want to section the paddock off to allow for rotation. I also would be concerned about her getting too fat, even going into winter. As with humans, insulin related problems are a big issue especially among overweight horses & a bit 'light' is generally healthier than too heavy.

Re the price of hay, I'm in Oz (& I thought you were too, Wallaby, with a name like that!) but over here, while it can be $16 or more a bale from the feed store, if you have a trailer, you can buy it direct from farms for a fraction of the cost.
    10-01-2010, 06:44 AM
Originally Posted by Peggysue    
Throw her a flake and see if she eats it... if she does then you need to give her some... I try to keep hay out year round even when mine have pasture... they still seem to "want" it so they get it

If they eat it they need it? Really? You are kidding, right?

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