The Horse Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
84 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Is there a way to guestimate how much free-choice food (grass and hay) an "average" horse eats? I read somewhere that a 1,000 lb. horse eats about a (dry) pound an hour and eat for about 17 ish hours. (So that'd be about 18-20 ish lbs. "as fed" weight ???) Does that sound right? I have also heard some people say their horse can easily eat a whole 50 lb. hay bale in a day...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,599 Posts
I never thought about how much forage a horse consumes per hour.

Their digestive tracks are designed for trickle feeding, so they need to eat almost constantly. And they need to consume 1.5% to 2% of their desired body weight to stay fit:)


This document includes a table that shows what a fit horse SHOULD consume daily.

https://ker.com/equinews/much-hay-feed-horses-begin/

If the belly waddles from side-to-side on a gelding or a not-in-foal mare the horse needs to lose some weight:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,289 Posts
I have also heard some people say their horse can easily eat a whole 50 lb. hay bale in a day...

2600 pound Percheron might do that. 2%=52 pounds


Edit: some horses left to their own devices can waste as much hay as they eat
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,422 Posts
I've read it depends on quality of pasture on how much they'll eat per hour. Probably on short over grazed pasture it would be less then a pound per hour.

My two gelding go through a 1000 lb bale in 3 weeks. In dead of winter when temps are well below zero. Bales last 1.5 to 2 weeks.

I've had them eat a 1000 lb bale in 10 days...when it stayed below zero for 2 weeks highs 12 below lows 60 below. That's not wind chill that's air temp.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,556 Posts
When I lived in Arizona, I kept the horses on custom built slow feed boxes (which were a pain and the bane of my husband's existence, because of my very destructive mare). Each horse was in a separate large pen of their own and had access to their boxes 24/7. The horses each went through a 90 pound bale of grass hay in 4 to 6 days. In the winter when it was colder, it was 4 days; in the hottest part of the summer, 6 or sometimes 7 days. It was the same for both horses; both mares of different body types, with slightly different work loads (one a 14.3 chunky quarter horse, the other a 14.3 lean agile mustang). They never got fat on this feeding system, though you'd think they would. They got a minimal amount of supplemental feed, a ration balancer, etc.


A horse with unrestricted access to loose grass hay would definitely go through a lot more - but whether that is due to overeating or waste (poop and pee in hay, etc) might be difficult to determine. Alfalfa hay is a different ball game - my mare could probably eat herself literally to death with unrestricted access to alfalfa, she thinks it's candy.
I've definitely had to watch my mare more carefully since we moved and she's on fresh pasture each summer. Pasture seems to really pack weight onto her, where hay did not quite so much.


If you do the math on my data in the first paragraph:
90lb bale in 4 days = 22.5 pounds per day (coldest part of year, horses use forage to produce heat)
90 lb bale in 6 days = 15 lbs per day
So my horses went through 15 to 22.5 pounds per day, depending on a variety of external factors, when allowed to eat how much they chose to. They maintained good body condition and did not become obese.

Anyway, hopefully my desert feeding experimentation helps with your guesstimations. :)
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top