This last year brought serious issues in regards to hay production due to relentless rain.
As a result, hay is somewhat scarce, and the hay that is out there is less nutritious, in some instances, than usual.
We wanted to offer some suggestions to fill the gaps in nutrition in until (hopefully) a good hay seasons is upon us!
Because hay is limited and of lesser quality, you may need to supplement forage in non-traditional ways, and this can mean through pellets, bagged / chopped hay and complete feeds, as well as a higher quality loose mineral / salt (we like Equipride, Cargill Right Now Onxy and Sweetlix, if any of these can be found) verses blocks.
Please do not try to make up the quantity and nutrition through increasing sweet feed or regular pelleted feeds. This is dangerous for your horse and will not achieve the needed results.
For horses, forage is the foundation of feeding. Increasing grains is not the right way to fix a lack of enough food hay.
A horse, as a rule, needs 2-3% of his ideal body weight a day in feed, and most of this should be in forage. If you’re feeding a 1,000 lb horse, you may be feeding 30lbs of food daily. Approximately 5lbs of this may be a grain based product, like Buckeye Safe and Easy Performance (what we typically feed), and the rest,m so 25lbs, needs to be forage (hay, grass, pelleted hay, chopped hay).
If you are trying to extend the use of your square or round bales, try offering 10lbs per day of packaged forage in whatever form is most easy to pick up and afford for your situation, so that may mean soaking 5lbs of timothy or alfalfa pellets or cubes twice a day, adding 5lbs a feeding of chopped hay or buying the compressed bales of hay at Tractor Supply. The cost is notably higher for all of these options, but one must do what is needed when a hay season is not ideal. Depending on how short your hay stores are, you can certainly go to full “retail” packaged hay if you need to.
If you have enough hay stored, but you know it isn’t nutritionally sufficient, instead of feeding less of the hay you have, try adding a few lbs per feeding of any of the forages mentioned above.
You can also, though less ideally, convert your grain feeding over to a complete feed until you know your hay is of good quality in the coming year (hopefully!!!).