Well, this had to be the next topic after getting hay delivered yesterday. This question plagues horse owners every year. How much hay do you give your horse in the winter? If you google that question, and I have a million times over the last fours years that I have had a horse at my property, I get a different answer. And I should get a different, or maybe I shouldn’t get an answer at all because so much goes into the answer, or does it? When I first bought Bailey, I boarded her at a few different stables, but they all followed the same routine. 2 flakes in the morning, 2 flakes at night, and you just deal with it, or like most owners did, sneak an extra flake to your starving horse. You don’t ask questions because that is the way it is done and has been done forever. And that really is silly as some flakes are thicker, and the content of the flakes make a huge difference too, as well as the size of the horse, age, use and so on.
The best thing about having your horse at your house is you can make the decisions on their care. I think this season I may have hit the triple crown like American Pharoah on solving the question. I will use three different hay applications.
First, my horses are healthy. They are not requiring any special dietary needs. Cheyenne may be considered a full figure mare, but I blame that darn apple tree for the weight gain…that will be another blog topic. Neither horse gets any grain. They do get 1 measured cup of Empower Balance nutrition pellets in the morning and evening, as well as a scoop of selenium and vitamin E. The hay I get is very good quality and not high in starch or sugar. And yes, they get treats!
The first year I did what most barn owners do. Have a hay rack mounted on the wall. That wasted sooooooooo much hay. Bailey was the only horse at the time and completely spoiled, so I didn’t mind that much. But it did make cleaning manure a pain to clean up as she seemed to leave her piles on the hay. So, I got rid of them and bought the blue plastic hay feeders and hung them on a tree.
That worked a bit better, but still she pulled a bunch out and that hay would get wasted as well.
I then bought a feeder box. That so far is proving to be fantastic in solving waste and boredom and the horse is eating in a natural head position. It is a big box with a metal grate over the flakes and the horse pulls the hay through the 4″ holes.
I also have installed a hay hoop collapsible slow feeder that can hold about one flake in each stall. Those are 2″ holes.
My plan is to always have a flake in the hay hoop, at least three flakes in the feeder box, and 2 flakes in the blue plastic feeders that are hung low out on a tree. That sounds like a lot of hay. The more I read about free choice hay feeding is that the first few days a horse may eat a lot, but once the novelty wears off, they adjust and eat what their body requires. Eating hay all day is a horses way of keeping warm, and we all know how darn cold it is in Syracuse in the winter!
So, that is my current plan, and like anything, I adjust as I go along. Just remember…lots of water always has to be available to your horse.
I have to thank my mom for reading my first blog and leaving a comment. Gotta love Moms! Even at 88 years young, she is supporting her kids hobbies, uses the internet, lives life to the fullest everyday, and has gotten pretty knowledgeable about horses between my adventures and my brothers horse adventures. Thanks Mom!