Couple questions - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 11-21-2016, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Elkhart, IN
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Couple questions

Hi, guys. I have a couple of questions.

1) We built stalls for our horses and we put them in at night with their feed, hay, water etc. and then turn them out in the morning after they have their breakfast. It's starting to get colder at night, and I'm wondering if we should either a) blanket them or b) leave them out of their stalls so that they can share body heat. Am I pampering them too much or is this a legitimate concern? (For what it's worth, we got our 1st 2 horses last October and I spent the winter trying to think of a logical way to bring them into the house so they weren't cold. I'm aware that I might be a bit....illogical).

2) This concerns the quality of hay, not so much the content. I've read a lot on the subject and as usual there are different opinions all over the place. We've been buying our hay from the same place since we got horses. They seem to eat it ok for the most part, with the following exceptions: Last spring, we bought 1st cut from her. The horses ate it well, no issues. There was no 2nd cut due to lack of rain, so when we needed hay again we got 3rd cut. The lady we buy it from had plenty of 1st cut left, but we thought (correctly or otherwise) that fresh is best. The first cut she had left was really really dry. It almost looked like straw. There was no green in it whatsoever. The 3rd cut was really green, but it was more strands, I don't know how to explain it. It was really soft and bendy, not "hayish" at all compared to what we've bought in the past. There are random bales in the 3rd cut that are really densely packed and when you drop them on the floor a big woosh of dust comes up. The horses won't eat that at all. They'll eat the rest of the 3rd cut, but not nearly as much as they ate of the 1st cut. So. Long story short, do I just feed them what they like to eat? Will they get enough from the really dry, brown 1st cut? We have 5. None of them are skinny or unhealthy so I'm probably worrying about nothing, but an ounce of prevention and all that.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts :)
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post #2 of 13 Old 11-21-2016, 10:46 AM
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It would help to know how cold it gets where you are. I don't think I've blanketed my horses in 2 years because the temp rarely falls below 20 degrees F where I am and they grow very thick, very woolly coats. If the temperatures where you are are similar to mine, maybe even a bit lower, and your horse(s) get a decent winter coat, I personally wouldn't blanket them if they're inside. The wind and weather are the things that really matter. If my ponies are going to be outside on a cold, windy or wet night, then yes - I would blanket them. Wind makes everything soooo much colder, but if they're inside? No problem. If you're extra worried about it, make sure they have enough hay to last them pretty well into the night because it will warm them up a lot.
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post #3 of 13 Old 11-21-2016, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Elkhart, IN
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I'm in northern Indiana. In the heart of winter it will go below freezing regularly over night with highs during the day only in the teens. They've already gotten a thicker coat on them. They each get 2-3 flakes of hay when we stall them in the evening.
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post #4 of 13 Old 11-21-2016, 11:03 AM
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If they are shivering/otherwise seeming uncomfortable or not themselves then they are too cold. If not, then I personally wouldn't. They're dry, they're fed, they're out of the wind -- they'll probably be okay :) Just my two cents.
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-21-2016, 12:54 PM
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StormShield® Contour Collar Euro Extreme Turnout Blanket in Contour Collar at Schneider Saddlery

Here's a good guide for when/what kind of blankets you might want to use. I personally start to blanket at night when we dip below freezing, and as long as it's dry, I leave them out to eat on round bales. If it's really windy or wet/snowy/icy, they go in the barn.

Basic rule of thumb, cold and dry, not windy, is probably ok if they have plenty of hay to eat. Cold, windy, & wet/snow/ice, not ok and they go in and get blanketed.

Depending on the type of hay, 1st cutting may be the best. Alfalfa, 2nd & third are usually best, grass hays tend to do better with first.
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post #6 of 13 Old 11-21-2016, 01:15 PM
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That dust in the hay is probably from mold which is why the horses don't like it.
It was difficult to get a 3rd cutting to dry this year.
I grow my own hay but ended up buying hay because my last cutting was iffy. It looked great but I didn't think it was dry enough. I sold it to my hay guy for $1/bale & bought other hay from him for $3.50/bale. Better safe than sorry.
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post #7 of 13 Old 11-21-2016, 01:45 PM
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Natisha, I want to live where you are! It's $12-14 a bale in my area
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post #8 of 13 Old 11-21-2016, 02:25 PM
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If your stalls are "weather-proof" of dry, not drafty bringing your horses inside and feeding them extra hay may be all they need.
If you have drafts, added conditions of being damp or wet can get to the horses...then some type of blanket or sheet, turnout style, may benefit them.
In a barn out of wind, out of drafts, dry and munching on hay....
Horses when they eat make their own body heat from the digestion process occurring.
I watch my horses and let their body language tell me if they need a blanket or sheet to be comfortable.

My horses get "agitated" when they get cold and are uncomfortable.
Restless, cranky...just plain ****y attitude. I put a sheet or blanket on them and they settle down and become the lumps of affection I know.
I prefer turnout style sheets or blankets so I have options of turning out in inclement weather and my horses stay dry and not have wet "bed-clothes".
I also don't blanket so heavy my horses don't grow a coat but I do use that blanket or sheet to keep my horses comfortable when we have more than moderate weather changes happening.
Many horse-people are pro or con and fierce in their "to blanket or not philosophy".... phooey!
Watch your horse and how they are acting....if you know your animal you will know what you need to do about covering them or not.

As for your hay situation...
A hay bale that poofs a dust cloud when dropped....
If no dusty floor and you can see a noticeable "cloud" on impact....toss that bale out the door for a refund on moldy hay.
Moldy hay can have a fine white powdery look to it when dropped from a loft, usually has a odor of musty and not the fresh smell of hay you should recognize from feeding hay often.
Horses and molding hay do not mix well, usually a catalyst to a vet needed for illness or colic.
If your horses won't touch that hay, pick at it, they are telling you loud and clear there is something wrong with it...err on caution and throw it away. Get it replaced from your feed dealer...but get it away from the horses and out of your barn!
Molding hay can spontaneous combust as I am sure you know....
A bale so dense as you describe makes me instantly think it was not dried and field cured, tossed and dried again properly but baled damp and wet.

So, if you have 4 cuttings a year of hay the 2nd and 3rd are choice cuts.
1st cut I find is not as nutritious as it contains the dregs of the field from last year and 4th is final cut and many times is also lesser quality since the growing season is beyond prime when cut...
Many horses do well though on 1st or 4th cut...they love 2nd and 3rd as it is just "the best"....
Even dried, cured and baled hay should have some green to it.
If you are not feeding alfalfa then a rich, rich green might concern me that curing was not done correctly...
All baled hay should have a pleasant smell to it, not make you sneeze {I sneeze when near poorly cured and baled hay}. If you grab a piece to chew on it should not make you spit it out for foul should be pleasant tasting actually.
Now me, I would rather feed that dry looking hay over a dense, heavy bale that emits a dust cloud when dropped.
Make sure your horses have plenty of water and are drinking adequate amounts as the weather gets colder...
Some horses prefer to not drink super cold water so do watch consumption amounts.

If in doubt you are not feeding enough of a quality hay, you can supplement your horse with some alfalfa cubes or pellets. Soak them, yes soak either one as it also allows you a way to get extra water into their body during cold weather.
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post #9 of 13 Old 11-21-2016, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Elkhart, IN
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Maybe what I need to do is take a picture of the 3rd cut we have. I'm still really new to this so I don't always explain things right. The 3rd cut just doesn't "feel" like hay to me. It's not the least bit stiff, doesn't cling to my clothes or my hair the way the other hay does. The smell isn't going to be much help for me; as soon as I walk in the barn my allergies go nuts and I don't smell much after that LOL. Like I said, they're not skinny or unhealthy, I'm just really concerned about feeding them what's best for them. They do drink plenty of water. 4 of the 5 get a bit of salt in their pelleted food at night. The 5th would drink herself to death if we let her. They all have heated buckets in their stalls and there's a big heated bucket in the barn for them to share.
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post #10 of 13 Old 11-21-2016, 03:30 PM
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I'm in west- central Indiana. Third cut hay is typically very different from first cut. Could you take a picture of the hay and post it?

I've never really blanketed my horses. I always give a little extra hay on the extra cold nights and if there is a lot of wind, or rain/ ice with wind, I would bring them in. Other than that they stayed out (but always had the option of shelter) and they did just fine.
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