Stretching Your Hay Supply
Dr. Shea Porr, Equine Extension Agent, Northern District
Dr. Scott Pleasant, Veterinary Extension Specialist, Virginia Tech
The drought-plagued summer in the Mid Atlantic and Southeast Regions has resulted in decreased hay supplies and soaring prices. As winter approaches, many people are starting to feel the pinch. The average horse eating only hay needs approximately 2% of their body weight in good quality hay each day to meet their energy needs. That’s roughly 20 pounds of hay each day for a 1000-pound horse. Adding a concentrate (grain) to the horse’s diet can reduce the hay requirement to 1-1.5 % of their body weight. If you find yourself short on hay, either due to lack of availability or high prices, here are a few suggestions for stretching your horse’s hay supply.
One option is to replace a portion of your horses hay requirement with chopped hay. Chopped hay products are typically sold in 50-pound sealed bags. They may be fed to totally replace the horse’s hay needs, but are usually too expensive to justify feeding at a full replacement rate. However, they are excellent for replacing part of a horses hay requirement and for supplementing overly mature hay. Chopped hay products are usually fed on a pound-for-pound basis (one pound of chopped forage for one pound of long stemmed hay). Always adjust the feeding rate to maintain proper body condition.