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Old 12-17-2006, 11:24 AM   #1
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Free choice hay?

I was reading another topic and free choice hay way mentioned. I would like to know a little bit about this. We have 2 horses. Scout is OK but could use a little more weight. Clancy, my haflinger, is a little pig. The vet says he is a little on the heavy side. Our horses are on a dry lot. They get about a square bale of hay between them each day along with some grain. Clancy gets a taste of grain with something called Source added to it. Scout gets a scoop of grain, twice a day, also with Source added to it.

If I were to put free choice hay out, how many bales should I put out? Would Clancy overeat and get even fatter? Scout is the dominant horse so I am not worried about him getting pushed out by Clancy. I am just not sure how I would limit Clancy or if he would eventually limit himself.
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Old 12-17-2006, 11:35 AM   #2
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When I feed free choice hay I feed strictly Round Bales , I try to make sure there are always two whole ones out there...
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Old 12-17-2006, 11:37 AM   #3
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I would say what you are feeding is pretty good I usually go through a square bale a day with five horses and they are all at a good weight my old man and 2 yr old are a little overweight. When I do feed a round bale which is not very often(they are hard to come by around here) they usually eat like pigs for a couple of days then they start eating normally after the excitement wears off. Just be careful (I posted this on another topic) because I had a horse founder on a round bale the day I brought it home. Ideally horses should be fed free choice grass or hay but its not possible for everyone. to keep one horse from eating all the hay I usually spread mine in about 7 or 8 piles so everyone has a pile and their are extra on top of it.

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Old 12-17-2006, 12:51 PM   #4
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Free-choice just means all the hay they will eat and it doesn't need to be over 2-3% of your horse's body weight per day.

However, with your slightly piggy halflinger, I would recommend cutting out the concentrate feed if you intend to increase your hay/day otherwise you could end up putting your pony at risk for obesity related health problems. Rather than a concentrate feed, you could go to just a vitamin/mineral supplement for him and only use the concentrate feed for you horse that has trouble maintaining weight.
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Old 12-17-2006, 02:42 PM   #5
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Thanks for your responses. I was feeding just the hay and no grain to try to keep his weight under control. He also has a salt block with minerals. My vet said that I should give him something like Source to give him more vitamins and minerals. He suggested giving him a very small amount of grain with the Source in it. I don't think he even gets 1 cup of grain. I just use it as a way to get him the Source.

We are separating the horses when they get their grain so that Clancy doesn't eat any of Scouts but we give them their hay together. I am not too worried about Clancy, just keeping an eye on him so it doesn't become a problem. I guess what I was wondering was, is it the hay that puts the pounds on or just the grain?
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Old 12-17-2006, 02:49 PM   #6
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With the exception of straight Alfalfa hay, no it does not add weight.

It is usually the grain and supplemments that will add weight.

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Old 12-17-2006, 03:06 PM   #7
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Has anyone seen this? I wonder how well it works. Seems like hay stalks would clog it up before too long. Neat idea, though.
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Old 12-17-2006, 03:25 PM   #8
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I prefer not to feed round bales..but my horses are free fed hay.
They always have hay in the stall.
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Old 12-17-2006, 06:54 PM   #9
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I am giving my new horse free choice hay in addition to a senior feed. I plan on adding supplements (as soon as they get here from State Line!) too. But mine came to me underweight and in bad need of some groceries, so I keep piling in the flakes into her feeder. I use square bales myself. She seriously loves her hay, not to mention the warmed water which she sucks up like a me that warm happy feeling from providing what she's been missing, you know? Luckily she is my only horse and so I don't have to worry about somebody else hogging her feed.
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Old 12-17-2006, 07:12 PM   #10
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Grain should be fed by weight not volume. If your horse needs to put on weight, he should be getting 5 lbs of grain a day. Divided into 2 feedings. Any less than this, the grain is not really helping put weight on.
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Old 12-18-2006, 08:15 AM   #11
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Our horses are on round bales all day and 2-3 flakes in their stalls at night.

When we first put them on round bales they wouldn't budge from it all day but now that they know it isn't going anywhere they spend more time trying to find one remaining blade of grass than standing at the round bale. They usually have hay left in their stalls in the morning too. I guess since they know it will always be there when they want it they don't feel the need stuff themselves.

I like my guys to always have something to munch.
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Old 12-18-2006, 08:21 AM   #12
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My husband built a wonderful round bale feeder that leaves very little waste; all we feed is round bales. I only give grain to broodmares, or to everyone during a long cold snap during the winter which we get on occasion.... along with free choice hay, everything else is free choice as well--salt block, mineral tub and of course water. Our hay is a great quality mix and so far this has always worked for us. They're all in great shape; one of them are thin, but none of them are overly heavy either; they seem to regulate it well themselves, without having to be restricted.
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