Archive for It's About The Horse The Free Forum for those Doing Parelli - and a whole lot More! "Anything forced and misunderstood can never be beautiful." Xenophon (430-355 B.C.),

       It's About The Horse Forum Index -> Horse General Chat

Hay, Winter, and Horses?

I probably should have posted these questions sooner but I never remembered until now

1. How much hay should 3 horses go through in the winter?
2. Which saves more hay and money.....squares bales or round bales?
3. When we had only one horse on our farm last winter, it took her about 3/4 of the winter to go through one bale. This year our three horses have gone though near to five!

Need some answers....kinda try to save money here...

Our six horses are going through a 1000 pound bale of brom in about 5 days?  They LOVE brom hay.  Like giving me and Kelsey a giant cup cake.  Sweet, lots of calories and yummy.  They only walk to the water to drink and they are right back at that dang bale.  It's going to be very cold, so they will need the calories.  We put it out just for this next storm.  It's gong to be very cold.  -3 by tomorrow night.  This bale will last them through the cold snap, and they'll be back on prarie hay when it warms up.
With a round bale, there is a lot of waste, even if you have a feeder for it.  We grow our own so it's our only choice.  Most of the time we have prarie hay round bales out.  Lots of roughage, not so many calories, doesn't generate near the internal heat that brom hay does.  Keeps the horses guts happy, and healthy.  
How much are you paying for a round bale and how much do the bales weigh?  What kind of hay is it?  I think they are around 35 here for a round bale, or 3 bucks a square bale.  Now in California?  28 bucks for a square bale.  No round bales were available when I lived there.  Sorta depends on what your are paying per bale.
It's a balance between keeping their weight where it should be, and giving them enough hay so they can keep warm.  Hay generates heat, slowly and lasts.  Grain generates heat quickly, but doesn't last.  If horses can graze all day, (I just read about this) it's better for their gut, their digestion and regulating their own temperature.  It's why I like round bales, in spite of the waste.  They can graze all day, eat whenever they like and I know they are self regulating their body temp with hay consumption.  
You can supplement with grain, but really research what you are putting into your horse's tummy.  Kelsey has everyone on Timothy hay pellets, beet pulp soaked in hot water, and their supplements.  My tack room looks like a smart pac store.  Horses don't allways get what they need just from hay.  It's why folks have it analyzed, and then supplement what the hay and or water isn't providing for the health of the horse.  Ms. Kelsey has pretty much gotten the supplements down to a science, and can also look at the hoof to determine what is lacking.  
Feeding horses is more than hay, more than throwing some grain, more than providing water, or salt (we can't do the red stuff because of the iron content in our water) and she has copper and zinc mixed in appropriate levels just for this pasture.  
So how much hay?  lol, this whole horse thing is so much MORE than what I thought when I got into it.  Feed em some hay, give em clean water.  Right.

Our three are eating a round bale a week. It's cheaper for me to feed this way around here, only $40 per bale. I have the Texas hay net so less waste which helps ALOT !!!

I have 3 and a round bale lasts me about 3 weeks..
To reduce waste I fork the hay over into the keeper..
The hay we have is mixed grasses, but has alot of brom in it..

HOw is the tx hay net holding up? are you still using the same one?

Hey Elaine,

My net is holding up well, it has one hole which my farmer easily mended for me with baling string. It has already paid for itself over and over. When it wears out I'll get another one.

It depends....on the size of the bale and the size of the horses.  Unless you are trying to get weight on an underweight horse, no horse should be fed more then 2% of their weight daily.  If they are overweight, cut that back to 1.5%.  If you are having a time of extremely cold nights - 10-20 degrees colder then what the horse is used to in the winter, I add an extra pound per horse each night.

Figuring an average 1,000 lb horse, figure 15-20 lbs per day, preferably split into 2-3 feedings.  

If you are feeding your horse (controlling each feeding) you can control waste by placing a tarp on the ground where you open the bale and containing and feeding what would otherwise be waste.   Waste ads up quickly.   With 7 horses I get one feeding for one horse a day off my tarp.   I feed grass hay, and it kind of 'explodes' once you open the bale.  Some hay is crimped and baled a little moist, and then stays in flakes better to reduce waste.  I see more waste with large bales then with small bales.

If you are field feeding large bales the only way to reduce waste is to put the bale on mats (FarmTek has affordable large mats) and then sweep the mud and/or sand off it daily.  Once the hay is dirty, horses won't eat it - and shouldn't.  Field feeding carries an additional risk of spoilage during rainy weather.  

Do not feed grain.  Research has shown repeatedly now that horses do not need and can't metabolize high amounts of carbohydrates.   It's like feeding your children straight sugar and setting them up for diabetes.  You are better off investing in a higher quality hay or  adding a feed formulated for any vitamins and minerals missing from your local hay.  

Buy a weight tape and measure your horses.  The tapes aren't extremely accurate but they do give you a ballpark figure and if you keep track of it, help you to adjust hay for weight before they turn into piglets.   Ask you hay dealer how much the bales weigh.   Then get out your calculator.  The same weight of hay should last the same amount of time, regardless of how it was baled.

We find most farmers are way over estimating the weight of their bales.


When it's really cold, my 6  eat more.  When it warms up, they eat less.  We grow our own hay and store it as square bales.  The bales vary in size because the baler just does that!

But, we, also, do round bales for really cold times and take to the field.  it's nice when you are a  situation where you need help from a neighbor to have a tractor with a fork.  Sometimes, the your back can need a rest.

On a cold week, 16 squares bales have been munched!  We are talking 3 Belgians and 3 TWHs.  On pasture, very seldom blanketed.  Very cold winter this year.

4theloveofjake wrote:
Our three are eating a round bale a week. It's cheaper for me to feed this way around here, only $40 per bale. I have the Texas hay net so less waste which helps ALOT !!!

Where did you get your Texas Hay Net Sherry?  Im thinkinng I should get one!

Here's the link

Don't worry about your horses not getting enough, believe me they get it out but in smaller mouthfuls. My farmer wants all his customers to get one !

If I put out an 800 lb square bale it would last 5 dys free-fed. It lasts 14 or so days when I ration it.  My horses are FAR from thin.

I've fed rounds this way as well, and they are a pain to ration out, but they certainly last a lot longer with way less waste.

Some folks say the horses learn to self-ration.

They haven't met my horses!

And at $175 for an 800 lb bale of quality, dust-free brome.....well, you do the math!

This winter has been colder and I am grateful to have had more hay from the field to provide.  My horses, too , are healthy but they sure can run.  It not a slow pace , either!  

So the hay is what they need and they are not wasting it...It has been colder than the norm for us.

Some folks say the horses learn to self-ration.

They haven't met my horses!

They haven't met Smoky either


My guys do a pretty good job at self rationing. They are in good weight, the QH slightly under and they are never without hay to eat. They are definitely over fed which is clear by how much they lay, walk and poop/pee on it. They tend to gobble up the grass and the Timothy/Alfalfa mix more than the Oat/Barley hay. Half a ton of square bales last us 36 days at 16.1 hands and growing and 15.1 hands. I say good at self rationing because they leave their food to go play and sleep and then come back for more and then leave again. Would love the acreage to have the big round bales some day. They have the auto feeder which never causes a mess but they have the metal hay racks in their stalls that doesn't keep the hay in at all. Thinking about hanging a net or something. They yank the hay out of their hay racks and it ends up ALL over the place. Anyone know how to round bale up loose hay? Had a track groom that way going to teach me how to do it. I guess there is an art to it and you make a ball out of the hay and then hang the net. Sound familiar??

All my horses would be IR and foundered if I left them to self-ration.   Even with weighed hay, feeding less then 1.5% a day, I find fat pads on them now when they aren't getting enough exercise.

Two of mine do and Two of them don't.  At my place, the only time I have free hay is in the winter......... I am gone all day and don't like to just feed them twice a day.  What I have, come spring, is a couple of slightly chubby mares and two lean geldings  oops, same thing in the house

Ain't that mirroring thing wondrous?  Boots had feet a bit sore from me doing the final shortening of her toes.  We go equicising and I work up a blister with unaccustomed shoes, so now we are both a bit tender.  I'm wearing plastic bags over socks (to stop seedheads getting in my socks) with sandals at the moment!!!

OOPs, sorry, off topic.  Guess, like people, some live to eat and others eat to live.

jackspark wrote:
Two of mine do and Two of them don't.  At my place, the only time I have free hay is in the winter......... I am gone all day and don't like to just feed them twice a day.  What I have, come spring, is a couple of slightly chubby mares and two lean geldings  oops, same thing in the house

Interesting, I have one gelding that no matter what I feed or how much I feed weight gain.  Others.  Slim pickings, but I do not cut them slack on hay in Winter.  Plus, they can have grass in Spring, Summer and Fall... so I feed one meal a day to have them come up.  They get it according to their needs.  Slim  to none or more if slim.
       It's About The Horse Forum Index -> Horse General Chat
Page 1 of 1