Resolve to Weigh Your Horse’s Feed
Horses with continuous access to pasture have been shown to consume between 1.5-3% of their body weight per day in dry matter. More recent research has shown that some individuals will consume considerably more than this, but generally adult horses consume 1.5-2% of their body weight per day in dry matter. Experts commonly accept that a horse needs to consume about this much forage to maintain healthy gastrointestinal tract function.
When we restrict a horse’s forage intake by meal-feeding hay, we might feed below this ideal intake level. This is particularly true for easy keepers—those horses fed reduced rations to avoid obesity. Unless you weigh the hay that you are feeding each day you will not know whether you’re maintaining this desired amount of forage intake.
Additionally, flake weights vary. When hay is baled, the baler’s tension can be set so that each flake within a bale is roughly a certain size and density. While there is variation between flakes within a bale, there’s potentially even greater variation between bales from different sources. So considerable variation can result if you buy a few bales at a time from the feed store, with flake weights possibly varying by a couple of pounds. That might not sound like a lot, but if you’re feeding a 1,200-pound horse four flakes of grass hay a day, and those flakes vary in weight from 4 to 7 pounds each, that could results in a 12-pound difference in hay intake per
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