How Much Hay Does a Horse Eat? Behind-The-Scenes Info

Equine Feeding Requirements

As a horse owner, you may ask yourself, do horses eat hay, and how much does a horse eat? Horses eat hay; however, you must monitor them by ensuring they do not consume too much or too little. A horse may lose weight if too little hay is available. This article will guide you on your horse feeding requirements.

brown horse eating hay

How Much Hay Does a Horse Eat in a Day?

How much hay does a horse eat per day? Your horse will require a particular amount of hay daily, depending on its weight. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture states that a fully developed horse needs between 12 and 15 pounds (5.4 to 6.8 kilograms) of hay daily. Weighing approximately 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) amounts to 1.5 to 3 percent of its body weight.

Depending on their metabolism, workload, other foods they may be consuming, and the season, horses may need more or less hay. Ponies will need much less, although huge draft breeds might need up to 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) of hay daily.

How Much Hay Does a Horse Eat in a Year?

The typical horse consumes an astounding 6,000 to 8,000 pounds (2,721.6 to 3,628.7 kilograms) of hay annually. This presumes that the horse cannot access other substantial food sources, such as pasture or grain. A typical hay bale weighs around 95 pounds and contains 21 bales, or about a ton, of feed, equal to about 6,600 calories daily.

How Many Flakes in a Bale of Hay?

It is beneficial to portion out hay for a horse so that you can monitor its intake more precisely. You can accomplish this by manually dividing the hay bale parts into flakes. You can usually receive a dozen flakes from each square bale, though there aren’t always the same number of flakes in a bale. 

You may rapidly determine the weight of each flake by using the knowledge that an average bale of hay weighs roughly 60 pounds (27.2 kilograms). The math is not at all difficult. It is vital to count how many flakes are in a bale before dividing the bale’s weight by the number of flakes, given that each flake weighs 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) and there are 12 in a bale of 60 pounds (27.2 kilograms).

As I have already explained, a horse weighing 1,000 pounds (453.6 kg) must consume 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms) of hay daily. As a result, you must give it five flakes of hay every day, ideally in five meals. You should note that not all flakes weigh the same, so carefully weigh them.

Using the Horse Hay Calculator App

Purchase hay wisely with the guide of the horse hay calculator app! Calculating the cost per pound (kilogram) is a more cost-effective way to compare various hay varieties and make purchases. With its pricing comparisons of small, large, round, and large square bales, the hay price calculator app aids hay buyers in estimating the price per ton. 

Buyers of hay need to choose the type of bale and enter the weight and price per bale. The hay price calculator software will compute the cost per ton so they can compare and select the most affordable hay. Buyers of hay should consider hay quality while weighing their options economically.

The app is compatible with Android and Apple devices. It must be re-downloaded by users who previously paid for it in their app store (there will be no charge). You cannot perform an automated update because of how long the app was unavailable from the store.

How Long Does Hay Last an Equine?

You may be wondering, how long does hay last an equine? A typical 40 pounds (18.1 kilograms) bale of hay typically last one horse for three days. Horses thus need a lot of hay to maintain their energy levels and keep them from becoming scurvy. The majority of horses, in our experience, consume between 10 and 15 pounds (4.5 and 6.8 kilograms) daily. 

However, their weight may vary depending on their age or workload. For instance, older horses may require more due to their slower feeding rates. In contrast, younger horses need less because they typically feel hungry at every meal!

How Often Do You Feed Horses?

Feed your horse twice every day. For optimal success, feed it on a schedule that works for you, close to or simultaneously. Horses should always have access to hay. Feed your horse frequently but in smaller amounts throughout the year, not just when it’s cold. 

You may mimic a horse’s normal feeding behavior on a pasture. Horses possess a unique digestive system. If a horse does not eat the required amount of food, it may experience colic.

In other words, if your horse doesn’t eat enough, it may get belly pain. The same is true when digestion occurs at once, leaving the digestive tract idle for the rest of the day. Setting up a rigid feeding schedule is the greatest method to keep your horses healthy. Yet another item! You must feed your horse at the same time daily since horses have an accurate internal clock.

horse eats hay

The Rules of Equine Feeding

You probably first heard the rules the first time you stepped anywhere near a horse: never go behind a horse, never run, always feed rewards on your flat palm with your fingers outstretched, etc. The important ones are the feeding regulations. If you keep them in mind, you’ll have a solid foundation for your general horse care.

Give a Lot of Roughage

Many trail and pleasure horses may get by on pasture or high-quality hay instead of grains. You can add grain if hay is insufficient. Still, roughage should always make up most of a horse’s caloric intake.

Horses should consume roughage. Their digestive systems process the nutrients in grassy stalks. Roughage should make up one to two percent of a horse’s daily diet.

Horses who spend a lot of time in stalls don’t graze much, but you can mimic their natural feeding habits by leaving hay out in front of them all day. They can eat it for a while, stop and rest, and then return to it, ensuring that some roughage is constantly flowing through their bodies.

Feed Grain Frequently and in Little Amounts

Give your horse grain in several smaller meals rather than one huge one if you feed it. For the convenience of their human caregivers, most horses receive grain twice a day. If you must provide your horse a lot of grain for some reason, think about feeding him again around noon. 

Small, frequent meals are better for horses because they can digest and utilize their food better. They are also more natural for horses. The meal digestion is inefficient when you feed a horse a lot of food.

Each horse has unique requirements. Think about how much hay to feed a horse on pasture. Horses that spend most of the day grazing on healthy grass rarely require hay. 

Whether indoors or outside, horses that don’t receive enough turnout or aren’t on decent pasture will need extra hay. You should know how much to feed a horse in winter. Use hay to augment pasture feeding throughout the winter or times of drought. Depending on the available pasture, you can reduce or entirely stop feeding hay when the grass is thick and lush.

Less is always more when it comes to grain, so start small and make adjustments as needed. You’ll discover the ideal proportion of pasture, hay, and food for your specific horse’s needs.

Make sure to modify your horse’s feeding ration if their work varies.

Adjust Feed and Feeding Times Gradually

Make adjustments to your horse’s feed or ration size gradually whenever you do so. Colic or founder can result from abrupt changes in the quantity or nature of the feed.

If you’re changing the amount of feed, raise or decrease each meal gradually for many weeks. One way to switch the feed is to replace 25% of the old feed with the new feed every two days, ensuring that the horse consumes 100% of the new feed after six days.

Measure Feed Properly and Feed Regularly

Use a kitchen or postal scale or the scale at your neighborhood feed store to begin weighing the grain you will give your horse. Once you know how much the standard ration for your horse weighs, you can measure that amount with a scoop, coffee can, or other suitable tools at feeding time.

A 1,000-pound (453.6-kilogram) horse that only consumes hay normally consumes 15 to 20 pounds (6.8 to 9.1 kilograms) of hay daily. Most hay is in flakes, although the amount of hay contained in each flake varies significantly depending on the type of hay and the size of the flake. 

Use a bathroom scale to weigh the hay bales you are feeding if you are unsure of their weight before giving your horse the necessary amount.

Avoid Feeding Right Before or Right After Exercising

Ideally, you should refrain from riding your horse for around an hour after a meal. It should take closer to three hours if you’re going to engage in something particularly demanding. The horse’s lungs have less area to work because of a full digestive system, making exercise considerably more difficult. 

Additionally, blood flow diverts from the digestive organs during activity, slowing gut movement and possibly increasing colic risk. When feeding a horse after work, allow them to cool down. By the time they finish, their respiratory rate and skin temperature should have returned to normal.

Maintain a Routine

Horses thrive on routine and keep much better times than their human caregivers’ thanks to their remarkably accurate internal clocks. You should serve meals to horses at the same time every day according to a regular feeding plan. 

An abrupt change in habit usually doesn’t hurt horses. Still, for horses prone to colic, it can be more than just annoying and could even be enough to start a colic episode.

horse eating hay

Final Thoughts

You need to provide your horse with the appropriate amount of hay. A 1,000 pounds (453.6 kilograms) horse needs between 15 to 30 pounds (6.8 to 13.6 kg) of hay daily. However, when deciding on your horse’s diet, you should consider its size and the amount of work it does. Give your horse the right amount of feed and watch it live a happy life.