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jofielder7 10-14-2007 04:03 PM

Grass Grazing vs. Bailed Hay Feeding Question
I recently bought 6 horses who will arrive to our farm in 3 weeks. I have dealt a lot with horses, but have never been in charge of their feeding routine. I am also in Nicaragua where I don't know much about the nutritional facts on the available pasture grass. I will keep my horses in their stalls over night and out in pasture for about 3 hours per day until we get the arena built and then they will work about 1.5 hours/day. I am wondering if concentrated pellets and pasture grass is enough or if they will also need some type of hay in their stalls for when it is in between feeding time and pasture time. My concern is that with pellets and 3-4 hours a day of grazing, extra hay will make them fat. Any information would be much appreciated. I guess my main question is whether or not pasture grazing replaced hay or not?

Vidaloco 10-15-2007 08:19 AM

When my horses are on pasture they get no hay but they are out 24/7 then. I still feed a pelleted feed year round and add a vitamin mineral supplement from July till they are back on pasture in the spring. Our grasses lose nutritional value in the late summer, and they are on hay in the winter. I would suggest keeping an eye on their weight, if they appear to be dropping weight you may need to keep them on pasure a while longer or add hay.

Flying B 10-15-2007 10:15 AM

If you have enough grass then there is nothing better, if there in at night and working an hour or two a day I would try giving them a scoop of feed in the morning and one at night, they shouldn't need hay if you have enough grass, but remember grass doesn't grow in the winter, if you have horses then you should always have some hay.

KANSAS_TWISTER 10-15-2007 02:45 PM

when are horses are penned by the barn they get hay if the low gate is open to a small pasture they only get hay at night, they get pellets bothin in the morning and at night

daveb 10-27-2007 11:01 PM

Our horses rarely get any grain or other concentrated feed, They have access to pasture nearly constantly and get hay when the pasture is recovering. I have found that I don't like the attitudes my horses get when they are fed grain. They are much nicer animals when they have to find their own food. :wink:

I would recommend feeding as much good quality hay as they want when they are not on pasture. This not only provides nutrition, but also activity so that they don't get as bored and develop bad habits. Monitor their weight as you begin working them (a height/weight tape is a great tool) and start to add grain if the begin losing weight.

DGW1949 10-30-2007 02:00 PM

I've had horses off and on for years. The most that I've had at once was five and I currently own two.
None of that makes me an expert by any stretch, but........ I have learned from experience what works well for me and mine.

To my way of thinking, hay is basicly just dried grass.
Having said that though, I do know that the two do have different properties and are not fully interchangable as to diet. So what I do is........feed a little hay daily to go along with the pasture-grass they are getting. Doing that seems to aid the transition from grass to hay, as the grass dies off during winter.
One doesn't want to make abrupt diet changes, even though the cost-factor of feeding hay(and/or feed) all year around may tempt one to do so.
And beings how you limit yours to 3 hours of grazing a day, I doubt that adding a little hay each day will make them fat. Besides, even if it does, a bit of added exercise will cure that.

I'm also a big believer in vitamin and mineral suppliments.
Mine get theirs through the feed-mix I use, which is divided-up into 2 feedings a day.
Given the fact that plant-eaters(as opposed to canavores) must get all their minerals from the plants they eat....and...given the fact that soil gets depleated of it's mineral content rather quickly....and....given the fact that most fertilizers contain little or no mineral-boosters.... I see no way that pasture grass(or hay) alone can provide anything close to a balanced diet.

On the other hand, I'm in S/E Texas and you are in Nicaragua.
You may have much better grass than we do and/or other factors involved which I would not be aware of.

Hope this helps.

jazzyrider 10-31-2007 07:24 AM

i agree with the above post.

my horses have very little grass to graze on thanks to the drought so they get a 24/7 supply of hay in the form of a big round bale. i wouldnt have it any other way. i prefer them to have a non stop supply as they are horses after all and basically need at least 16 hours a day of grazing to fulfill what they would get in the wild. there are times when there is a little more grass and in these cases i provide a little less hay but still making sure they can basically graze as they want.

i also am a huuuuuge believer in supplements. i feed equilibrium b1 mix as a supplement and its fantastic. its a COMPLETE supplement even providing electrolytes and it shows in many ways in the horses condition.

in short (guess its too late for that lol) unless you have a whole lot of grass for them to graze, i would add extra hay. my guys get the equivalent of a bale of hay a day. plus, hard feeds with their supplements. as long as there is enough grazing and they have supplements to cover what they arent getting from their hay/grass etc they should be fine :) as earlier said, if they get too fat you can feed them a little less or of you have them grazing you can either cut down grazing time or increase exercise. if they arent gaining any weight or losing it then you will need to up the amount of grass/hay that they get.

good luck with it all :)

stefie 11-13-2007 06:54 PM

well to me there is noting better than grass, thats what they eat in the wild isnt it lol....i would say what you are doin is fine but dont worrie about the hay just let them eat there grass and give then about a scoop of pellets at night just to keep them happy coz they work during the day so its just a little supliment....if you have plenty of grass just let them eat that and save your hay u might need it sooner than you think

Appyt 11-14-2007 09:15 AM


The main thing to remember is horses are designed to eat a often, unlike people, dogs and cats. Grazing animals do best when they have hay/grass available nearly 24/7. Meaning they do rest/sleep etc. so they can go a few hours without feed.

So, if you can leave them out on pasture all day rather than only a few hours AND your grass is good then that is best.. IF you cannot do that then when they are inside they need to have hay given to them to replace the grazing they are not doing. Make sense?

Of course you will need to keep an eye on them to ensure they are not gaining excessively or losing weight. Adjust their hay/grazing etc accordingly. :)

kitten_Val 11-14-2007 11:58 AM

I had my horses on hay 24/7. In 2 months they look pregnant (ended up consulting vet). But they were just fat (I worked with them almost every day though and cut-off grain). After I moved them to my place I feed 3-4 times a day (I go with square bales, as round bale for 2 horses is way too much). And they are still rather fat.

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