Join Date: May 2011
Location: Chino Valley, AZ
In some cases, having hay out all the time just isn't feasible. For example, where I live.
We don't have much pasture. What we do have is tough, native grass that the antelope and cattle like, but isn't great for horses. Most horses here are kept on dry lots because of the lack of grazing and cost prohibitiveness of irrigating good pasture. So, everyone feeds hay.
The main staple is alfalfa, as that is what we have easiest access to. Even then, you won't find it for under $13/bale (110+lbs bale). Alfalfa is not really a hay you want to feed free choice. Anything that is okay to feed free choice (Bermuda or orchard) is $16+/bale. We don't have round bales (heck, I didn't even know what a round bale was until I joined the forum).
So, the majority of the horses here are fed on a schedule. My gelding is fed three times per day, Bermuda and alfalfa (more Bermuda than alfalfa). He has never colicked or been sick in any other way. Most horses around here that I know to have colicked have been sand colics from eating off the ground.
The only time I've had a horse that had hay in front of him all the time was my old gelding and that was in a hay net. He was in a stall the majority of the time and got bored easily, so the hay net kept him busy. He got one or two flakes of Bermuda in the hay net and then got alfalfa for breakfast and dinner.
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