How much to feed - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-19-2017, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Northwest Ohio
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How much to feed

I am bringing my horse Ori home soon from boarding, and I have asked/read about how much grass hay he will need. I keep getting conflicting advice. I have also asked the lady where I board and she is telling me double the amount that others have told me. I think this is because I will be $buying$ my hay off of her! HAHA!

Ori is a big stocky 15.3h Tennessee Walker. We will ride 2-4 times per week (road riding and trail riding over FLAT ground) and lunge 2-3 times per week (I will be doing other fun things like trick training too) He is about 12 years old. Therefore, exercise will be minimal- nothing intense.

1) Keep in mind that he is a walker and he really moves out! Loads of energy!
2) This fall, he will have limited grass pasture- My small pasture is being put in as well as a dry lot. I will let him on the grass as needed so it doesn't die back.
3) I live where winter kills the grass back.
4) Then, this spring, my much bigger pasture will be put in. He will have more access to fresh grass then.

Therefore, with minimal grass this fall and winter, some people told me 1/2 a bale of 2nd cutting grass hay a day. But the lady where I board said 1 bale a day.

I can weigh him tomorrow with a weight tape if that helps? Please let me know. I think he is somewhere between 1,000 and 1,100 pounds...

(NOTE: I am considering free feeding him as well. I just don't want him to get too fat. I can post a CURRENT picture TOMORROW- I noticed he is a little bit ribby- but not too bad. He is due to be wormed again... and, the pasture grass is short as the boarder has too many horses on it. She gives one supplemental grass hay feeding a day as of right now.... Overall though I want to know what he needs for fall and winter maintenence!)

I have added pictures of him. I am 5'7'' and my nephew is 5'9''.... for size reference
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-19-2017, 09:04 PM
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I think you may be surprised that he weighs on the high end of your estimate if not more.
My 15.3 quarter horse is a solid 1250...built similar to yours.

Once you know his actual weight, if he needs to gain no more only maintain you can start your hay at 1.5% - 2% of his actual weight to feed daily...1/2 bale of hay is probably pretty close.
You might need more if the horse is more active at your home than kept at a barn.
The majority of your food fed is best if it can be hay or fresh grass.
The kind of grass/hay and what cutting it is if hay all make a difference in nutritional values.
How old the hay is, how mature it was when cut and whether it was fertilized or not all are things you need to find out too.
I mix 2 types of hay in winter when my pasture is not a source of good nutrition but "busy-food".
I also feed from small-holed slow-feed hay nets/bags so my horses can eat longer their ration of hay.
Left to eat at their pace, they would be standing with no food to munch about 16 hours a day the way mine can chow down on hay...
With the hay nets, they eat about16 hours out of 24...
I do do several nets I hang throughout the day so I do let them have some quiet time where they can just browse their paddock or "sleep/ rest"...they don't have to eat non-stop although their eyes will tell you you've cut their throats with hunger.
I feed what they need to thrive, not what the horse thinks it needs to be a eating machine.

I would suggest you also find out exactly what was fed for feed/grain and purchase a full bag to go home with.
If you decide to make changes to that you will then have time to do so gradually and yet keep the food the same for least upset with the change of lodging facility the horse will be settling into.
Same as enough to last you a few weeks {figure 10 bales per month per horse minimum}...if you need or want to change to a different variety or supplier, do it gradually over a few days to a week in time so less stomach upset.
Good luck and enjoy having your horse in the yard...there is nothing like it I find to be greeted every morning with a whinny when you step out the door..

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-19-2017, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Northwest Ohio
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Awesome! Thank you!
I am supplying his grain- sweet feed. Once he is home and I am saving money on board, I will switch to a much healthier option- slowly as you stated.

I thought the 1/2 a bale seemed more accurate- that's what most people were telling me. I will plan on hay nets like you suggested. I think that will really help him to not be bored!
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-20-2017, 05:13 AM
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For your winter planning, when it's cold expect that he will need 2x the "normal" amount of hay every day.

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post #5 of 6 Old 09-20-2017, 07:22 AM
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I would figure on about 25 lbs of hay a day, that's 750 lbs a month divided by how ever much the bales weigh. So, if the bales weigh 50 lbs each that would be 15 bales per month. Everyones bales weigh differently and a lot of times they weigh differently from bale to bale but usually similar from the same supplier. You will probably find that he eats a little more in the winter and a little less in the summer. Way less if he has plenty of grass to eat.

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post #6 of 6 Old 09-20-2017, 08:05 AM
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I feed my horses (14.2 and 14.2hh very light exercise in winter) half a square bale a day in the coldest months when they have zero grass (literally - because it's under several feet of snow). However, given that this is your first year of having your horse at home, and since he is bigger than mine, I'd play it safe and buy about 3/4 to a full bale a day. Depends on the size of your bales, but it sounds like it will be the same hay you're using now, so you have a pretty good idea of how big they are. Incidentally, when I boarded one of my horses, my BO told me they were feeding him 3/4 of a bale a day. No way that was true. He gets fat if he gets a little more than half a bale.

But consider that there will be some waste. I also use slow feeder haynets, and wouldn't do it any other way, but occasionally, I will find a bale that has more weeds, or is coarser, and I set it aside for other uses. Some still ends up on the ground while filling the haynets. You may also need more hay than you thought in colder weather. There may be environmental factors that require you keeping your horse on hay longer than expected (a spring drought, a hay shortage next spring). Worse comes to worse, you end the winter with a bit of extra hay. Better than running out! My first year keeping my horses at home, I bought over 100 bales too much - so I just sold the extra in the spring for exactly the same price I'd paid for it (probably could have gotten a lot more judging by the interest!). I always keep a bit extra too, in case a horse needs to be stalled when they would normally be on pasture. I may be a little over-cautious, but it drives me crazy to see all the desperate people looking for hay in the spring because they didn't get enough, and are waiting for first cut.

Best to have a little extra if you ask me!
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