Horses are used in a wide variety of activities throughout Pennsylvania and adjoining states. Example: If your horse is 1,000 pounds, start by feeding 15-25 pounds of hay each day. If the nutrient quality is poor, then the horse will require more hay (by weight). To minimize feed costs, it is important to keep horses healthy and feed them a balanced ration that meets their nutritional needs. The hay should be cut early and be leafy, green, and free of mold, dust, and foreign matter, such as weeds and stubble. You’re welcome to use this infographic on your own website *as long as you link back to The stocking rate for horses is similar to that of cattle. This reduces waste because the horse has to pull bites out of the small holes, which keeps more hay in the bag and leaves less waste on the ground. The primary energy or calorie source for horses is hay or pasture (i.e. In that case, pasture will supply only a minimal amount of feed. *, Feel free to share on Pinterest, as well by hovering over it and clicking the Pinterest icon. 7 Creative Ways to Lower Your Horse Expenses: The owner of this website,, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking Review to Amazon properties including, but not limited to,,,,, or These harsh winter conditions put a strain on any horse to maintain internal temperatures and overall health. But time of cutting and other hay-making practices affect protein and mineral levels. Use endophyte-free tall fescue seed to establish new fescue stands for horses. If you do not have a good stand of desirable species, you may want to renovate the pasture by destroying the existing plants and introducing productive mixtures. You can also look up the nutritional content of all horse feeds (forage and grains). Horses readily consume good hay, which is rich in energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins. Most horses will drink 1.5 quarts of water per pound of dry feed intake. If you are anything like me, few things cause me as much stress and uncertainty as trying to keep my horse happy and healthy year-round. Answer: 60 ÷ 12 = 5. The average thousand-pound horse who relies on hay for all their forage typically eats fifteen to twenty pounds of hay per day. She, like many of us, caught the “horse-crazy” bug early in life and never looked back. Depending on quality and quantity consumed, forages provide varying amounts of required nutrients. Begin by turning the horse out to pasture for only 15 minutes a day, preferably after he has eaten his hay. Horse Hay FAQs: List of Types of Hay, What Hay is Best, etc. With that in mind, start by feeding 1.5-2.5% of the horse’s total body weight per day in hay alone. How often should I offer hay to my horse? Feed Horses Properly in Winter” North Dakota State University. A well-kept pasture also is the most natural and healthy environment for exercise and rest. of grass per hour, but, since grass is roughly 75% water, it is not a lot of fiber. In this article, I’ll break down the steps you need to take to insure your horse’s, Like all animals, horses need energy to survive and that energy is provided as calories from. Nutrient Requirements of Horses, 6th ed. Check out our blog about Horse Hay FAQs: List of Types of Hay, What Hay is Best, etc. Think of this as the amount of energy (via hay), needed to stay at “maintenance level,” also known as your horse’s baseline of optimal weight and Body Condition Score (Don Henneke Ph.D., 1979, Texas A&M, “A measure of body fat and condition”). Nutritional needs vary considerably among horses, depending on age, weight, and level of activity. If you already have good stands of desirable grass and legume species, you can maintain a satisfactory horse pasture with proper soil fertility and management practices. In this article, I’ll break down the steps you need to take to insure your horse’s winter hay diet is fed correctly. Orchardgrass has been cultivated for pasture and hay since colonial times and has been an important forage in horse husbandry since then. Well-managed legume-grass hays generally are higher in protein and minerals than are straight grasses under similar management. Clean, fresh water and salt should be available at all times. Get 7 Creative Ways to Lower Your Horse Expenses: You have successfully joined The Horse Rookie Herd! Always remember to take into consideration the quality of your hay. Can horses eat round bales of hay? At the same time, p… Continue the 15 minutes of grazing for several days and then increase turnout time in 10 minute increments each day until the horse is grazing for 3 to 4 hours each day. Typically around 80% of a horse’s feed should be forage, whether it’s grass, hay or some other forage it doesn’t matter. Pro Tip: Quality is everything, so I always hunt for the best quality hay. Feed at least 1.5% of the horse’s target weight in good quality grass hay each day while limiting pasture access. In the cold winter months, I ALWAYS feed hay at least 3 times a day. According to Carrie Hammer from North Dakota State University, Horses waste hay. Horses waste hay. It’s done by feeling 6 key areas along the body. It also forces you to take any blankets off, which can hide a skinny horse! Alfalfa hay, while normally high in protein, may contain an excessive amount of calcium in relationship to phosphorus (wide Ca: P ratio) when fed as the sole source of forage to young, growing horses. For more information on feeding horses and balancing their rations, contact the Penn State Extension office in your county. Answer: 2 x 2 = 4. Ensuring horses have enough hay to eat through the night is essential. Can I get a “yay” for headbands, fuzzy socks, and pumpkin spice lattes? When you’re mapping out your horse’s winter diet, hay must always come first. You should also give it 1/2 a pound of barley or oats daily for every 100 pounds of body weight. I love practicing dressage, eventing, stadium jumping, reining, trail riding, and cow work with my AQHA gelding in beautiful Montana, USA. Yes, take into consideration availability and budget, but better quality hay will serve you and your horse far better. The type of hay greatly determines the amount you should feed the horse. The body can go into shock and begin to quickly use stored fat and muscle to make energy for heat. If pasture is a feed source, horses with a mature weight of 1,000 to 1,200 pounds generally need the following amount of pasture: mare and foal, 1.75 to 2 acres; year- lings, 1.5 to 2 acres; and weanlings, 0.5 to 1 acre. Make sure you request an equine DE when having horse hay analyzed as sometimes the default DE calculation is for cattle. Just how much your horse will need will depend on its weight. After many winters with horses, I’ve come to understand the negative impact of letting a horse go too long between meals. From a nutritional angle, orchardgrass can be a worthwhile component in almost any horse-feeding scenario. Another summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye. It’s recommended that you add *an additional* 2 pounds of hay for every 10 degrees F drop in temperature below 32 degrees. A general rule is that a horse needs half a bale of hay per day to satisfy baseline dietary requirements. Ensure that at least 70% of the feed is roughage (hay, pasture or chaff). Your hay analysis should show the DM content of your forage. Liming and top-dressing Kentucky bluegrass pastures with phosphate, potash, and nitrogen costs much less and is less work than completely renovating the pasture. How do I know how much hay to feed during the 12 hours the two horses are in the dry lot? As winter approaches, we shift gears a little in our daily routines to make the cooler days a bit more tolerable. I feed 1% of their body weight in grass hay, offered daily with pasture as well and they always eat the hay. The cost of feeding your horse varies greatly based on your location. Two acres, if managed properly, should provide adequate forage in the form of pasture and/or hay ground. Horses should consume at least 1 percent of their body weight in hay or pasture grasses and legumes each day. When acreage is very limited (less than an acre per horse), exercise may … In the above example, the hay has 0.92 Mcal/lb of DE. If using good quality alfalfa hay, reduce the amount of Purina feed recommended by 1/2 to 1 lb/day. Use the appropriate method of seeding, based on extent of tillage. Establishing a rotational grazing system is the best way to maximize forage production and consumption on limited pasture acreage. Protect the seeded area until new plants are well established. Disk or plow to mix lime evenly with the soil. He's about 1,250 pounds and turned out 12 hours a day with another horse on three acres. Just like us, bodyweight doesn’t always give a clear picture of the overall condition we are in. In my early years of horse ownership, I did a LOT of research on allllll the things I needed to do before the temperatures dropped. This process usually results in the highest yield increase per acre, but will be relatively expensive to complete. If this hay was used to feed a horse in light work, 22 pounds of hay each day would be needed to meet the horse’s energy requirement (20 Mcal/0.92 Mcal per lb/= 22 pounds). They prefer certain pastures and crops and leave species that are unpalatable. Digesting hay has the greatest WARMING EFFECT for your horse. A horse can eat anywhere from 15-25 pounds of hay a day, which generally equates to a half of a 45/50-pound square bale of hay per day (~15-30 bales per month). * When feeding hay along with a complete feed, reduce amount of feed by approximately 1 lb of feed for every 2-3 lbs of hay offered. How Much Hay? Trot on over to: Erica is an Oregon native, adventure seeker with big ol’ dreams, coffee craving gal who loves a good story. Additional rough winter conditions, such as wind, rain, snow, or ice needs to be factored *in addition to* the increase due to outside temperatures. Yes! If you want to treat your horse, provide it with fresh apples or carrots as a reward, but do so in moderation. #knowledgeishorsepower. The best way to know the exact nutritional makeup of your hay, however, is to have it tested. It may even be possible to have lime and fertilizer custom-applied for a relatively low cost. Q: How many bales of hay does a horse eat per month? Q. Remember, digestion is what helps produce body heat to stay cozy and healthy! After 25+ years in the saddle, I bought my first horse at 33. Growing, breeding, or working horses require supplemental grain or concentrate to meet their additional nutrient requirements. During the winter, if pasture grass is limited, you need to supplement a whole lot more calories in the form of hay. Most of these horses are owned and managed for recreation or sport rather than for profit. You can also look up the nutritional content of all horse feeds (forage and grains). It’s a frustrating fact, but they all do it. Long-time horse lover, first-time horse owner. The primary energy or calorie source for horses is hay or pasture (i.e. Calculate the horse's maximum feed intake (Step 5). When recommended mixtures are seeded without a companion crop and weeds are controlled, new seedings can become established in a single year. • Horses are very selective in their grazing habits. Once the nutrient content of the feeds is known, the proper amounts of each can be calculated to meet the horse's nutrient requirements. I cannot recommend enough how valuable this information is, and making it a routine habit can be key to keeping any horse at optimal health! Horses should consume about 2% of their bodyweight per day according to their condition and workload. With good management, most hay species or mixtures can be satisfactory for horses. While generally considered less palatable than bluegrass, tall fescue produces one of the toughest sods of any adapted grass. Academies Press, 2007. Productive, well-managed pastures can provide most of the feed requirements of horses for the least cost. To be sure of the nutritive quality of the hay being fed, you must have it analyzed. more than what you give in “mild” weather to maintain health) is. The first thing you need to do is find out how much your horse weighs using either a weigh tape or weigh bridge. Just like us, bodyweight doesn’t always give a clear picture of the overall condition we are in. Consult the Penn State Agronomy Guide  (available through your county extension office) for more information on pasture systems. SOURCE: National Research Council, Nutrient Requirements of Horses, 1989. It may be used in heavy traffic areas, along fences, and around gates and water troughs. Your go-to resource should be the National Research Council – Nutrient Requirements of Horses, which offers comprehensive charts on exactly what your horse needs. Make feed changes gradually over 7-10 days. Enjoy this article? more than what you give in “mild” weather to maintain health) is outside temperature. Fabus, Taylor. Your horse may need more or less feed depending on whether he's an 'easy keeper' or a ' hard keeper'. If there’s ONE thing I wish I would have realized made the greatest impact…it’d be hay! Good pasture alone is sufficient to meet all of the nutritional requirements for many classes of horses. How do I make changes to the amount of hay for winter months? If you are feeding 100% hay and your hay contains 90% DM (or 10% moisture), your 1000 lb horse should be fed 20 lb of hay (18 lb DM/0.9) straight from the bale each day. If you don’t know how much the bales of hay you are feeding weigh, you can use a bathroom scale to check, then feed that portion of a bale … Good pasture alone is sufficient to meet all of the nutritional requirements for many classes of horses. Always remember to take into consideration the quality of your hay. Without adequate pasture acreage, horse owners will need to limit turnout time to prevent overgrazing and supplement with hay to help meet equine nutritional requirements. Body fat, along with muscle mass, indicates, giving you a clearer picture of how healthy your horse is. Timothy, smooth broomegrass, or perennial ryegrass, Timothy, smooth broomegrass, or Kentucky bluegrass. If you plan to grow and harvest your own hay, the steps listed below will help you to consistently produce high yields of good hay. If you have an area where you can turn your horse out then as long as it’s not sandy you could scatter it around the ground for him, this will be far more natural for him too. Like all animals, horses need energy to survive and that energy is provided as calories from the foods they eat. This occurs at no extra cost to you. National Research Council – Nutrient Requirements of Horses, 10 Exercises to Easily Strengthen the Bond With Your Horse. Is it “healthy” fat and muscle, or is it all “fluff?”. This means if the horse should weigh 1000 lbs, at least 15 lbs of hay should be fed per day. Small amounts of ertilizer can be applied through the seeder at planting. Using these chart, you’ll see how horse-specific factors like age, breed, workload, and weight are used to determine energy needs. About 2% of your horse body weight is how much hay or pasture your horse needs a day, and so if your horse is 1,000 lbs, about 20 pounds of hay per day. which offers comprehensive charts on exactly what your horse needs. $525 / year N/A N/A _____/month x 12= _____/year Feed The grass is chewed pretty short, especially with the hot, dry weather we've had. This is especially true when it comes to decoding nutritional needs for, In my early years of horse ownership, I did a LOT of research on. It’s a frustrating fact, but they, It’s done by feeling 6 key areas along the body. But depending on the horse and the hay, the amount may vary. A 500 kg horse eats about 5 kg (12 lbs) of hay each day. National Research Council. Hay The average horse maintained on forage (not pasture) eats 1.5 to 2.5% of its body weight per day in hay (between 18 and 30 pounds per day for 1,200lbs horse) depending on body type and workload. Older stands of fescue often are infested with an endophyte, a fungus within the plant. The roughage in horse hay requires a good bit of chewing. “Body Condition Scoring in Horses” Michigan State University Extention. Apply required lime several months before seeding. OK, great. Straight legume hay or legume-grass mixed hay is a desirable feed if cut early. High-quality, properly fenced pastures are one of the best and least expensive sources of summer feed for a horse. Connect with Erica and Hoofbeat Collective on Instagram, her blog, or access her free download of 10 Exercises to Easily Strengthen the Bond With Your Horse. Yields on many pastures can be doubled simply by applying lime and fertilizer. Table 1 shows estimated daily feed consumption rates recommended for various classes of horses. Body fat, along with muscle mass, indicates condition giving you a clearer picture of how healthy your horse is physically. When well established and properly fertilized, it produces a reasonably dense and attractive sod. Mature horses performing minimal or no work can be maintained on high-quality forages without supplementing their diet with grain. … Ponies will require considerably less, while large draft breeds can eat 30 pounds (13.6 kg) a day or more. Match horse energy needs to energy supplied by type of feed. By entering your email, you consent to receive communications from Penn State Extension. This system was designed to make it easy and effective for the horse owner to understand, track, and record the amount of body fat on the horse. When acreage is very limited (less than an acre per horse), exercise may be the main pasture use. Select a seed mixture that complements the pasture drainage characteristics (Table 3). Well, horses (especially ponies) can grow an amazing fluffy winter coat. The hay should be leafy and free of molds and dust. Destroy or suppress old pasture by plowing or using herbicides. Please read our disclosure for more info. So for example, that means a 1,000-pound horse who eats 18 pounds of hay for a maintenance level, would need 20 pounds if the temperature is 30 degrees. See All Pest, Disease and Weed Identification, See All Beer, Hard Cider, and Distilled Spirits, See All Community Planning and Engagement. If large amounts of fertilizer are to be applied, it should be disked into the soil prior to planting. If 1 bale of hay weighs 60 lbs, how many days worth of hay will you get from one bale for one horse? Through in-person workshops and online resources like a blog, ebook, and courses, her focus is on building a trust-based bond and lasting connection with our horses so every moment is nothing short of amazing! Horses can over-eat on grass, especially if the pasture is lush, but it is also easy to let a horse get too fat eating hay. (Soil testing kits and information on how to take samples are available through your county extension office.) In mares, toxins associated with this fungus can lower reproductive rates and cause abortion, agalactia (lack of milk), and prolonged gestation. The management practices, outlined in this fact sheet, can be adopted to help maintain healthy, productive pastures that benefit the horses, the farm, and the environment. But research has dispelled this notion. Q: How do I figure out how many calories my horse needs each day? But how on earth do you know what’s “enough?” And how do you account for the drop in winter temperatures? “Feed Horses Properly in Winter” North Dakota State University NDSU Agriculture Communication 2013. A good rule of thumb is to feed your horse the amount of hay she can clean up in about 1½ - 2 hours. Whether you improve your pastures by using lime and fertilizer or renovate by reseeding, sound management is essential to keep the desired species persistent and productive. View our privacy policy. Like any other preserved forage, the quality of orchardgrass hay depends on multiple factors, primary of which are cultivation and harvesting techniques. This is assuming the horse is not fed any other significant source of food, such as pasture or grain. If you are attempting to figure the carrying capacity of land for a horse, then a good rule of thumb is 1-1/2 to 2 acres of open intensely managed land per horse. As a general rule, a 500 kg horse will eat less than a 500 kg cow but a horse wastes more pasture. The first factor which will require you to feed *extra* hay (i.e.