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TwistedSerpent 11-05-2013 11:34 AM

How does this sound for winter feeding?
This is my first winter with horses out here, I've got two QH geldings in a paddock together, 14-15hhs roughly 1,000lbs, and a 15.2hh paint gelding in his own pen who we've been working on upping his weight this fall. The hay we feed is a grass/alfalfa mix that's a bit heavier on the alfalfa side.

Currently the paint is on 20lbs of hay, a couple lbs of Boost (were told to get it by our trainer to help with his weight, will probably stop with it once this bag is gone), a handful of sweet cob and supplements daily. He is not my horse but I'm close with his owner and could convince her to adjust if needed.

The other two boys are on 18lbs of hay a day. I'm out of the supplement I've been using with my gelding and looking for the best route to take with him. I'm leaning towards a good quality supplement with a good grain or beet pulp. He's an easy keeper so I don't need to keep is weight on.

I'm in Montana and they're outside 25/7. It's already below freezing and just going to get colder. They all get fed 3 times a day, now that the temps are low they've been getting a few lbs extra hay depening on just how cold it is. I would love to be able to give them free choice but I cannot move the large bales. When it gets really cold out are they going to be fine with 3-4 weighed out feedings a day? I really don't want to dump a wheelbarrow full of loose hay for fear of wasting a lot due to the wind, but if that's better for them I will do that. It does often get below zero out here, and I want to make sure they have enough hay to keep them warm and busy during the worst days.

Left Hand Percherons 11-05-2013 11:52 AM

I think your plan is fine for now but once the bitter cold moves in and stays, they are going to need at least 10# more each but would be happier and warmer with more.

I don't put up with wasting hay either. We pay too much for it as well as spending a ton of energy sourcing it out and hauling it home. The winters can be windy here as well and if you put hay out on the ground, it will blow to KS. I use turned tire feeders with all the horses. They don't flip much out (treads are on the inside so it captures the hay unlike a smooth sided feeder). You can use hay bags, build a slow feeder (use something like a hog panel over the top of a feeder so they can't pull but a tiny mouthful out at a time.), move the bale with a truck if you don't have a tractor (it's a little bit of work but with chains and straps, it's doable) and place the bale just outside the pen where they can reach it through the fence (leave strings on). If you don't have all your hay for the winter, look at buying some lesser quality bales (prairie grass, CPR grass) and just give it them to them free choice. The beauty here is there will be some morning where you just can't get out and feed (snow, wind...) and they will have something to do until you can get out there.

Chevaux 11-05-2013 12:08 PM

Hi TwistedSerpent, this is how I handle feeding in the winter (I am in Saskatchewan so in the scheme of things not that far from your state): We built feeders out of barn board to contain the hay and reduce wastage (cheap to build; work great; look like rectangular boxes); I allow 25 lbs of hay (we grow ourselves; grass and alfalfa mix) per horse per day as an estimate of what winter needs will be; I have four horses so will put out at least two bales (small square) once a day in the feeders and occasionally more if the weather is cold or the bales seem light; in the hard part of the winter, the horses go in over night but they still go through the same amount in a 24 hour day. I have not experienced any problems putting the hay out once a day; by using the feeders there always seems to be some left so with the addition of the current days ration they have plenty to keep them busy all day; in addition if the snow is not unduly deep, they continue to go out to the pasture to pick at things during the day. Because they are easy to keep weight on, they do not get much for hard rations - just some oats and maybe some complete feed once a day in their stalls.

Are your big bales that you mentioned round? There are work arounds to move them if you do not have a tractor with a grapple so you still may be able to put one of those out. If you do, it is best to use a horse friendly feed ring as it is so easy to waste hay that way.

TwistedSerpent 11-05-2013 12:20 PM

Don't worry they will defiantly be getting at least that much more a day, its moreso a matter of logistics, how to give it to them since I can't free feed them. The way our property is set up getting whole bales down to them is going to be difficult with a truck, and they've got electric along their fenceline, so it wouldn't be nice of me making them reach over it to eat.

I do have all our winter hay here, and have two tires as feeders but could get a couple more and just keep on refilling them or possibly build something with pallets. They are close to the house so even in the worst weather I can still go out to feed them.

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