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View Poll Results: How much hay do you feed your horses? I feed ____ per horse per day.
2-3 leaves of a small bale 2 18.18%
4-5 leaves of a small bale 3 27.27%
6-7 leaves of a small bale 3 27.27%
8-9 leaves of a small bale 1 9.09%
I feed large or round bales (please specify how much in a post reply below) 0 0%
I just try and keep the bottom of the feed container full at all times 1 9.09%
I feed too much and my horses are overweight 1 9.09%
I supplement my horses feed with things other than hay (ex. Grain, Beet pulp) 3 27.27%
Depends how much I feed depending on the horse 3 27.27%
Other (please specify in a post reply below) 0 0%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 11. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-16-2012, 04:21 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 148
Default Let's Talk Hay

Having raised my own hay for a number of years I have seen a lot of hay buyers come through my place. The recent post about hoof coloring got me thinking about some of the other myths in the horse industry. I would be interested to hear some of your thoughts on hay. I had a cutting horse trainer come and buy some of my hay this year. One of my crops he picked apart and was disgusted that I would even feed it to my horses. He said "bad hay will ruin a good horse faster than anything" I agree that quality hay is good for a horse. I have also seen show horses eat less quality hay than some backyard horses. You should not feed a backyard horse less "quality" feed but the nutrients in the hay can be less because the horse is doing less work. The particular crop that this man looked at had a few weeds in it. I was able to sell him a better crop that was actually really excellent alfalfa. What is it that you look for in hay? And how much do you feed per horse per day? Does the color of the hay determine it's nutrient content? For instance a bale of hay that has been left in the sun will turn yellow vs one stored in a barn that will stay green longer. Or if the outside is sun bleached yellow and the inside is green does this make it less quality for the horse?
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:10 PM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Blackfoot, Idaho
Posts: 87

Picking apart the hay you buy is just part of the deal, I guess . . . I've been on both ends of that deal. If you're really concerned about the analysis of the hay you're feeding, your county extension agent should be able to hook you up with an outfit that does that. They take core samples from your stack, and send you back a "poop sheet".

Weedy hay ? Depends on the weeds, I guess, and just how weedy. Locally, first crop tends to bolt, will be more weedy, and stemmy. Second and third crops are generally considered better quality.

I know horsemen who consider alfalfa hay "too hot" for horses . . . usually, a stand of alfalfa will go to grass in five years or so, and around here, alfalfa/grass hay is considered good horse hay. Water leaching into outdoor stacks causes spot mold, and is certainly more of a concern than sunbleaching, which is superficial - the inside of a bale doesn't see daylight,so I'd say loss is negligible.

Oldtimers used to figure 17# per horse per day, and fed oats when working them, at five hour intervals. That seems to have worked well for me, feeding saddle horses that have more down time than not. The eye of the master fattens the cattle, some horses are easy keep, others not so much.

I'm glad you started this thread, Cattleman - I've been curious how others feed.
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:22 PM   #3
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 148

I am not too concerned with people that pick apart my hay. I will admit to being fairly picky at times to the things I feed my horses because I take pride in how I put up my hay. That wasn't the purpose of my post, I get bothered more with the myths and things that people come up with when they look through my hay. The ironic thing was that particular crop of hay that I referenced was the last crop before I cleared that field to replant, I was clearing my barn and giving the hay away at $4.50/bale for the small bales. I thought this man had quite a nerve to complain when I was selling it to him at that price.

I created a poll at the top of the page for people to vote on how much they feed per horse. Personally, I have a lot of horses and don't break it down for each horse. But if I had to guess I would say that I am usually feeding half a bale per day to my four horses. Some eat more than others, but they all look more than healthy.
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