How much hay - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 06:51 AM Thread Starter
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How much hay

Recently got 2 horses and a pony I have them in a large paddock with plenty of grass (probably to much so will have to sort out a smaller paddock soon) my vet suggested they also need hay how much should I put out for them? Do I have to do it everyday do I leave it as a bake or spread it. Silly question I know but I am a newbie!
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 07:36 AM
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It depends.

1 - What condition are they in? Do they need to put on weight or lose weight? Google the Henneke body condition score system if you're not sure.

2 - Are they turned out 24 hrs a day or stalled part of the day? Horses should not go too long without food because their stomachs produce digestive acid nonstop which will give them uclers if there's nothing in there to act as a buffer.

3 - Are you giving them anything else to eat? Grain, a pelleted feed? I'm not a fan of these, but to advise you, we need to know the whole diet.

I like to use hay nets rather than put it on the ground for a number of reasons. It's less messy (horses tend to walk in it, soiling the hay) and you will waste less. But really, we need more information to go on. The vet may have thought they were slightly under weight, or he may have meant that eventually, they would eat all the grass or that all of it would die off in the winter, so you would need hay then.
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 08:01 AM
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If the grass is really lush and they are not used to being on grass they need to be acclimated or especially with pony types you may be dealing with founder/laminitis.

A horse on good pasture that is plentiful does not need hay until seasons change and the grass is covered in snow or dies off for winter. How big is the pasture? Too many horses on too small space will have it eaten to nothing in not much time. Then all you have is dirt. Dividing up your pasture and having a sacrifice area can save the grass that is there for times grazing and prevent problems if you have horses/ponies at risk metabolically. In those cases you would want to have hay out in the sacrifice area if it is all eaten down.

A horse on good pasture will not typically be eating hay you put out.

We do need more information as mentioned above.

It could also be pastures are weedy and there is not much grass or as much as three horses need. It could be he prefers a mix of grass pasture and legume hay in which case you put out small amounts and most horses will come eat that. My preference is to have variety available so mine are on pasture, get peanut hay once a day and since the pasture is poor there is a round bale for free choice. Two of mine are hard keepers and also get two small grain/pelleted meals.
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post #4 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 08:12 AM
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All great comments above.
Please do realize and recognize that as fall and winter approach those of us in the USA or Canada we are nearing the end of growing season of the grass.
When that occurs, although the animals can still graze they will no longer gather the nutrients they need so readily to thrive once the grass is dormant...
That is when hay fed in proper amounts to each animal is required to maintain proper condition.

A slow and steady process of learning horse care is underway.
You will have lots of questions and this forum is friendly and great on offering advice and personal experiences from many.
Ask away, read and then take what applies best to you and your situation.

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post #5 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 09:31 AM
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How large is the paddock? If only 3-4 acres the grass will soon be gone. The rule of thumb is that horses need 2 pounds of feed based on dry matter per hundred weight of the horse. 1,000 pound horse gets 20 pounds on dry matter base.

Hay can have 10-20% dry matter so 20 pounds of hay may be as low as 16 pounds of dry matter.

Hard to figure the pasture as it's very high in water plus there is no way to measure it. Depending on how hungry they are , and the particular horse, how much they eat can vary. I've heard that a horse will graze 1-1.5 pounds per hour but have no idea if that was based on dry weight or as grazed.

But yeah, body fat or lack of it is the so important key to look at when making feeding decisions.

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post #6 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 10:01 AM
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Ponies usually need less hay then horses do to the smaller size. My two horses eat more then 20 lbs of hay in winter ,closer to 40 lbs a day.

Depending on where you live and how cold it gets. In colder climates horse require more hay to keep warm. Here in MN 20 lbs isn't enough. My horses lose weight on 20 lbs in winter months.

If still on pasture they might or might not eat hay. Grass here is still green and growing so horses aren't interested in hay.

Figure on at least 150 square bales per horse for the winter. Or 15 1000 lb round bales per horse. Always figure on more better to have to many bales, then run out in February.

Good rule of thumb is 1.5 percent of body weight in hay. If extem cold weather 2 percent of body weight in hay.

We put out our 1000 lb round bales in a feeder. So horses are never without hay. If real cold I don't net bale they need all they can eat un restricted.

If horses tend to get to fat then you have to regulate how much the eat. Fat isn't an issue with mine they are lean & fit.
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 10:07 AM
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Very, very roughly, for every 5 pounds of grass you would have 3 - 4 pounds of water. So 80 to 100 pounds of pasture per day.

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post #8 of 12 Old 08-17-2020, 07:18 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all your replies the paddock is about 20 acres so has plenty of natural feed does that mean I don’t need hay?
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-17-2020, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Alice Evans-pyke View Post
Thank you for all your replies the paddock is about 20 acres so has plenty of natural feed does that mean I donít need hay?
You will need hay when the grass starts dying off for winter.

The horses will tell you when they want hay. You also need to keep some small squares on hand for those times a horse might need to be put up,due to injury.

My horses are on 20+ acres but come in every night, so they get hay at night. I watch how much they consume and increase the hay accordingly as the pasture grass becomes less and less desirable.

Even if there isnít much pasture, horses will still move around and attempt to graze as thatís in their DNA, so donít be fooled by ďthey are still eatingĒ pasture, or you might look at them one day and see more ribs and hip bones sticking out than you should:):)
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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-17-2020, 07:30 AM
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To me, you still need hay...probably not as much but you need it.
Not sure where you are but winter weather of snow covering the ground, ice can restrict a horses movements and ability to get to that needed food safely.

As said earlier, grass although it may be present first off is not every blade edible to horses or any grazing animal for that matter... picky connoisseurs we have.
Grass going dormant loses its high nutrient quality...
In time, it is busy food and offers little nutrition to the animal, that is when hay is needed.
Many of those quoting numbers are also referring to estimates of how much hay their horses are eating from bales or round roll, not walking and grazing pastures exclusively.
I have a commercial dairy down the street from my home... 10,000 acres of grass and somewhere between 2,000 - 2,500 milk cows on it.
They don't feed round rolls when the grass is sufficient for the cows to have premium milk production...
Round rolls are being fed again and have been for the last 2 weeks, everyday and the cows are eating the hay rolls then grazing tells me they know nutrients are not what their bodies need...instinctively they just know and switch.
To me, you will need some hay...not as much as the one who feeds nothing but hay, but don't rely only on your pasture to feed your animals...
I think you would be disappointed in what your animals will look like and become.
How much hay... only you know what you can store.
3 animals...I would have on hand at least 50+ bales so days the horses & pony stay in due to horrible weather they can eat too...
When you drop to 10 bales restock or just stock up on more and sell off what you don't use or need once your pasture starts to grow and be dependable again next spring.
That is what I would do..

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