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Old 08-18-2008, 05:51 PM  
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How many pounds of hay does my horse need??

I need to know definitively, once and for all, exactly how much hay should I feed my horse? He is a 7 y.o. paint gelding, 16.2 hands, and I would consider him to be a "hard keeper".
I am thinking of moving to a different boarding barn, and want to be able to tell the manager exactly how much hay Rio needs each day in pounds. I do not want him to lose any weight. Rio has a tendency to lose weight easily, so for a 1300 pound horse, what is the requirement??

F.Y.I Rio is in exellent health, teeth healthy (recently floated), regularly de-wormed.

Thanks,
Karen
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Old 08-18-2008, 06:04 PM  
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Feeding at a high rate of 2.5% of his weight would be 32.5 pounds a day.

Recommended daily allowance is anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 of a horses body weight. Of course this is if he isn't getting any forage...although I prefer to allow for as much forage as a horse would care to eat.
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Old 08-18-2008, 06:27 PM  
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I agree with Seer. I've always heard/read that the 'average' horse should eat around 2% of their weight in forage/hay a day. Since you say your horse is a bit of a hard-keeper, I'd feed him at a higher %. I also second what Seer said about allowing as much forage/grazing as possible. The grass is easier to digest than hay.
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Old 08-19-2008, 07:03 AM  
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I think it depends on the type of hay too. I wouldn't want to feed my horse 30# of alfalfa per day. But I agree that keeping forage in front of him is the best way to keep the weight on.

I have easy keepers and feed 10#-15# grass hay each (1% - 1.5% of the body weight) in the winter broken up into 3 feedings per day. (If we get snow and/or really cold weather, they can get up to 20# each.) We bought two types of hay: higher quality grass and pretty low quality grass. I always made sure to mix the two -- that way, they didn't gobble everything down at once and had the poorer hay to munch on throughout the day.

Your horse should get no less than 20# per day I would think.
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Old 08-19-2008, 07:12 AM  
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Here is an interesting article on feed for horses:

http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$departm...sf/all/hrs3243

While you would not feed alfalfa in the same quantities as hay, the myth surrounding it's usage needs to be debunked:

Quote:
While alfalfa is more nutrient-rich than most other forages, it is not any richer than many other feeds commonly used for horses. For example, good quality pasture is often higher in calories and protein than alfalfa hay (Table 2). Leafy, rapidly growing spring pasture grass may contain 20 to 26% protein. By comparison, mid-maturity alfalfa hay will contain 16 to 18% protein
We fed ONLY alfalfa in AZ - and never had any problems.. we also had Bermuda or Orchard grass for older horses to mix with it..

Adding some soaked alfalfa cubes to 2% body weight feeding of a good orchard grass hay may be the way to go as well.. Less waste with soaked cubes, easier storage and availibility, and it also puts more water in the intestinal tract, which can help prevent colic..

Just an idea..
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Last edited by gbarmranch : 08-19-2008 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 08-19-2008, 07:52 AM  
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This is an excellent and informational site that gives examples of regulating grain/forage intake to adjust Body Condition Score:
http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/an_sci/exte...se/recover.htm

While it begins talking about how to adjust after a natural disaster, there is actually very very good information for all horse owners to read, as far as how much is ideal for horses in normal cicumstances, and how to adjust your feeding plan to help horses in non-ideal body conditions.
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:01 AM  
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The amount of hay needed also depends on what else he is fed.

For example, if he is fed beet pulp, alfala pellets or has access to a decent paddock of good grass then his need for hay will be less.
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:04 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seerfarm View Post
Feeding at a high rate of 2.5% of his weight would be 32.5 pounds a day.

Recommended daily allowance is anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 of a horses body weight. Of course this is if he isn't getting any forage...although I prefer to allow for as much forage as a horse would care to eat.
I agree with that but want to add that also depends on the quality of the hay and type say alfalfa you would lean more to the 1.5 but with a low quality grass more to the upper 2.5 -4 a day just keep that in mind!!! Also if you are graining him that will play into how much hay he need and the quality!!
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Old 08-19-2008, 09:57 AM  
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Doesn't it also depend on the activity level of the horse?
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Old 08-19-2008, 04:01 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahlihaff View Post
Doesn't it also depend on the activity level of the horse?
Absolutely. There are lots of factors and that is sure one of them.

Regarding feeding alfalfa: I fed only alfalfa for 4 years and never had a problem. What most people worry about the protein content -- it is the calcium/phosphorous that I am more concerned about. If you have your hay tested and know what you are feeding, no grass or legume hay should be big problem. Another concern I had with alfalfa is that they had to get less of it or they would have ballooned big time. I didn't like the fact that they only had forage in front of them a couple hours per day. Of course, the same thing can happen with high quality grass hay.

Two years ago I ended up with fairly low quality grass hay (I had it tested). I was still feeding only 1-2# per 100 for all three of my horses and they were fat as toads when winter was done. If I fed each one 4#/100 they'd explode! It really depends a lot on the horse.

I used to try to buy the best hay I could find. I no longer do that. I'd rather my horses eat a little more low/medium quality hay that less high quality hay. But that's because I have incredibly easy keepers.
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