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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I moved my horse to a barn that has turn out but it's in a dirt pasture with absolutely no grazing available unless I bring him to the levee and hand graze. The barn gives 2 flakes of hay a day and it looks to be a medium quality grass hay. I would like to offer my horse free choice hay for the times he's in his stall so he has something to 'graze' on and would go with a decent grass hay.

I told the owner, a horse owner of 20+ years, about my idea and she told me 'oh that's a terrible idea! You could make him sick!' She then told me that I would be wasting my money because he's not underweight. I'm confused... if they can eat all the grass they want when it's available, why would hay be any different? It's not as if I'm going to be offering straight alfalfa! Is it really terrible to offer him free choice hay in his stall? Is it going to make him sick? And if it's so terrible, why do I see people put huge round bales out in pasture for those horses to have something to graze on when they're on dirt or the grass is dead?

I'd love to move him somewhere else that has GRASS pasture turn out, but at the moment the closest place I can afford is an hour away.
 

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Free choice grass hay is fine. I've never heard that too much grass hay will make a horse sick unless there is some sort of medical condition involved.

If you want him to have something to "graze" on all day I would suggest a slow feed net. That will slow him down enough that he is not really getting more, it just takes longer to eat. My guys have them and instead of sucking down a bale in an hour they nibble on it all day long so they are never bored.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's what I figured. I have to use a net for him because if it's on the floor he'll scatter it around, pee on it, and then refuse to touch it. I was thinking I could get a few nets and hang them around the stall to encourage him to move around instead of just standing in one spot.
 

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Generally speaking, a horse needs to consume 1.5% - 2% of it's body weight in forage every day.

Forage means grass and/or hay.

Feeding roundbales is a sticky wickett and not-at-all efficient when only one horse is involved.

If the horse is a fairly easy keeper, it might stand there and eat until it's hooves are pointing skyward. I have one like that --- he is insulin resistant.

I wouldn't free-feed hay in the stall either, because of the potential mess and waste. "Free-feed" to me means you want to put enough in there to last him until you visit the following day.

That being said, two flakes of hay per day is not enough for any horse, unless it's a Mini. Further to that the flakes need to be weighed. I was really surprised at the huge difference in the weight of flakes when I had to start weighing them for my metabolic horses.

If I were in your position and not able to move, I would get a couple small square bales of quality mixed grass hay, stand on a scale to weigh each flake and feed him about 18 pounds daily<---twice a day would be best so he doesn't waste it.

I wouldn't dream of just feeding two flakes a day. Especially if he's getting bagged feed; which he doesn't need because it doesn't sound like he's in hard training for anything at the moment. They are grazing animals by nature and need the forage moving thru their digestive system.

A ration balancer with a vit/min supplement would serve him much better. Things like Nutrena's Empower; Purina's Enrich 32; etc.

Please check his manure:shock:

It's ok if his manure is brown (as opposed to olive) because he isn't on pasture. It should have a glistening moistness to it and while it should be a solid conisistency, it shouldn't be hard and it shouldn't be dry.

Sorry, I know that's gross but it sounds as if he's not getting near enough forage in him, even if the B.O. says his weight is fine. Again, I'd be wondering what and how much is going into his feed pan:?

Back to the round bales --- we never fed them when I was a kid on the farm --- not even to the dairy or beef cattle. Grass was free-range but hay was controlled.

I don't believe in roundbales for my horses as there's four and they can't eat that bale fast enough before it turns moldy, and/or someone that goes "squeek squeek" and has foot-long tail moves into it.

I throw hay off the small squares, every morning, according to their needs.

Amazingly, I still have green pasture. They walk right past the 20 lbs I throw (for four), wander 22 acres all day, then come in around 3:00 for water and head to the hay piles. They aren't hungry and there's no point wasting large amounts of hay. Just flush that money right down the terlet:p

Oops, others answered before I got this typed:)

Ditto the slow-feeder hay net as long as can be safely hung so he won't get caught in it. One of my IR horses has to have his hay that way.

Hope this helps:)
 
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I definitely think that your horse should be getting more than two flakes! I give my horse as much hay as she will eat, if shes not eating that much i cut her back a little. even if they are an easy keeper they still need to eat a good amount of hay just maybe little to no grain or a ration balancer!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Walk, it definitely does help. I'm not happy with the amount of hay they're feeding the horses, period. If the quality was higher, I could see dropping the amount a bit, but it's just grass hay. I was feeding him about 15-20 pounds of coastal burmuda a day before I moved him to this barn and his poo was very healthy looking. I don't pick the stalls at this barn (planning on doing self care in March) so I can't really comment on what his poo looks like now.

I'm going to order some hay nets today. The local store sells them for almost $20! It's outrageous.
 

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i wonder how big/heavy the flakes are that this barn can get away with feeding only 2 a day. is it really two flakes a day or two flakes a feeding? that makes a difference too. do what you think is best for YOUR horse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's two flakes a DAY (per the lease I signed and what I see them putting in the hay racks) and I'd guess that they weigh about 3-4 pounds each. I don't have a scale, but I'm very good at judging weight when I'm holding it in my hands. I was feeding him about 6 flakes a day per day before I moved him. That's around 10 pounds per feeding give or take if the hay fell apart when I pulled it out of the barrel.
 

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And of course other people have posted almost the same thing as this: but oh well. :)

2 flakes a DAy is not nearly enough for an average sized horse (maybe for a mini ,it would be okay.)

You should also feed by weight and not volume ( as I have had BO's tell me that my horse was getting 3 flakes and the flakes were basically see through!)

. usually the ideal would be 2-3% forage for the amount of bodyweight of the horse (depending on work level)

for a 1200lb horse 24-36 lbs of dry matter daily ( that would be including grain)

FreeChoice hay it is not a terrible idea at all. free choice grass hay will not make him sick (unless it is moldy/bad quality or he is not getting adequate water). it is actually beneficial.

I feed my horse free choice (so as he has a bit leftover in the morning or by next feeding) of grass hay.

HECK sometimes it has a bit of alfalfa mixed in.

if he is not being ridden or only ridden lightly that is usually all they need to maintain weight. you can always add a multi-vitamin or ration balancer ( as suggested)

I feed TC lite ( it doesn't have a lot of protein and is one of the lowest NSC amongst grain and RB's)

He is getting enough protein via the hay I give. no need for added protein for my horse.

if they are not willing to make accommodations I would be finding another facility, the risk of ulcers and colic are not worth it to me. IMHO.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
They have offered to feed him more hay, but I'd rather just do it myself so that I know what he's getting. I thought that it'd be nice to have full board, and all the other horses look just fine, but I'm anxious to get him back on self care like before. I enjoy taking care of him.
 

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I've met a lot of folks who think two flakes a day is some sort of golden rule of horse care. When I ask some of them why they have no answer it's just "how things should be done".

How much does he weigh? Depending on conditions a horse needs 1% or more of his diet to be fiber/forage. Usually the one percent is for horses on restricted diets, very easy keepers or on super rich forage, most horses will consume more especially if being worked.

If you want a source of cheaper nets I use these. They are the best buy for the price in my situation.

Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Slow Feed Small Mesh Hay Bag

They have two inch holes and have held up well for me. I have three boys that think these nets are a combination food source and toy. My guys get aprox. 1.5% of their body wt. a day in these nets plus a vit/min supplement. I just fill and toss into the pasture where they have great fun rolling the bag around while eating on it. Gets them moving around a bit more that just tying it to a fence and none of my guys has shoes so they can't get caught on it.

If you are worried about a shoes getting caught in the net I would suggest putting the net inside a regular hay bag. I have known others to do this and it works well for them. I have also seen the nets placed inside tubs in the corners of the stall, but that takes up more floor space.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I just got those same exact hay nets. How do you secure them closed so that the hay doesn't fall out?

I'm guessing he weighs between 900 and 1000 right now. He just turned 3, is 15.1, and is guessed to be 16 hh or so when finished growing. I'd say 1200 lbs full grown would be a decent size for his body type.
 

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That is the same age and aprox. weight of my guy who is also supposed to mature out at about the same size as your guy. Right now he is getting ~ 10 lbs of high quality bermuda grass hay a day. Plus moormans grostrong as a vit min suppliment, I can't say enough about this supplement, it has worked wonders on every horse I have seen use it.

My guy is an easy keeper and if I let him go free choice without a net he gets too heavy and wastes about half of his hay.

To tie the top closed I do a monkey chain. This link show how I do it.

Chain Sinnet (Monkey Braid) | How to Make a Chain Sinnet | Decorative Knots

I start out by pulling the top closed all the way and tying the beginning knot very tight so that the top does not gap open. It ends up making a little tail that I use to carry the bag around by.

For horses that get bored easily I have run a rope down from the barn rafters so that the bag is hanging in the middle of the run in (I don't have stalls). They can't get the bag up against a wall or corner as well and it takes them more time to eat. Some horses may not be able to eat this way as well as others though.
 

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As a boarding barn owner I agree with what has been previously stated. You need to be aware of how much hay and grain your horse is getting and watch his weight carefully.
Unfortunately we do not have grass turnout either, but all the horses are in large paddocks with the Slow feed hay bags. It's really the best you can do in some situations. 4 decent size flakes or 12-16 lbs of hay per day should be enough hay for your horse. Horses also need quality feed ( grain ) and there is a hugh difference in quality there. Some high protein, high fat grains need only to be fed at .5 lbs per 100 lbs of horse. others are 1 to 1.5 lbs. you need to look at the tag on the grain bag and then see how much your horse is getting. If it's not what the bag calls for your horse could be missing vitamins and minerals the need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I've decided to put him on a ration balancer, but the frustrating thing is that 'self care' is 'full' and I am stuck in full board. That makes absolutely no sense to me. If I had known that the different types of board are restricted to what BARN he's in (they're all identical except that self care has buckets and full board has automatic waterers) I wouldn't have moved him in the first place. These are things I asked, but didn't get a straight answer.

I don't have anywhere else to move him at the moment. The closest affordable SAFE place for him is over an hour away. While it's a possibility we might be moving to that city, that's not until after July. I know it's not going to kill him to eat something I don't want him eating, but it's frustrating that I can't do what I want with MY animal.
 

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I told the owner, a horse owner of 20+ years, about my idea and she told me 'oh that's a terrible idea! You could make him sick!' She then told me that I would be wasting my money because he's not underweight. I'm confused... if they can eat all the grass they want when it's available, why would hay be any different? It's not as if I'm going to be offering straight alfalfa! Is it really terrible to offer him free choice hay in his stall? Is it going to make him sick? And if it's so terrible, why do I see people put huge round bales out in pasture for those horses to have something to graze on when they're on dirt or the grass is dead?
Our mares say 'free choice is the way!' They're stocky Paints, but aren't fat and have always been healthy. Having grass in the pasture just makes the bale last longer...from 1 week in the winter to 3 weeks in the summer.

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Now I'm annoyed. I just got a text from the barn owner telling me that I'm not allowed to give my horses hay cubes until I get approval from (insert specific DVM name here). I didn't sign anything that even eluded to the idea that I have to get DVM approval to make diet changes. What's worse is this text wasn't mass messaged. It was specifically for me. I'm also annoyed that she's telling me that I must use this specific vet to get my permission to feed my horses hay.

Yesterday I found out that they don't even weigh hay and no one could tell me how much my boys were getting. I'm about to spend over $1000 a month in boarding fees and extra expense for supplements and hay cubes. I can't even afford riding lessons anymore. I'm thinking of moving them out of town even if I can't visit them often. It's better for them and it'd be a hell of a lot easier on my wallet.
 
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