How Much Hay Should A Horse Eat? (TOP 5 Tips)

Measure feed accurately and feed consistently The average thousand-pound horse who relies on hay for all their forage typically eats fifteen to twenty pounds of hay per day. Most hay is dispensed in flakes; however, the amount of hay in a flake can vary greatly, depending on the size of the flake and the kind of hay.

  • The first thing to know is that an average fully-grown horse weighing from 1,000 to 1,100 pounds (453.5 – 499 kg) should eat approximately 15 to 30 pounds (8 – 3.5 kg) of hay daily. That amount is about 1.5 to 3% of the horse’s body weight. Therefore, it is necessary to measure your horse before determining its daily portions.

How many bales of hay should a horse eat per day?

A horse can eat anywhere from 15-25 pounds of hay a day, which generally equates to a half of a 45/50-pound square bale of hay per day (~15-30 bales per month).

Can you overfeed hay to a horse?

We know horses need to eat either grass or hay. Horses can overeat on grass, especially if the pasture is lush, but it is also easy to let a horse get too fat eating hay. And, sometimes too little hay can mean a horse will lose weight.

How much hay does a 1200 lb horse eat a day?

The first thing to know is that an average fully-grown horse weighing from 1,000 to 1,100 pounds (453.5 – 499 kg) should eat approximately 15 to 30 pounds (8 – 3.5 kg) of hay daily. That amount is about 1.5 to 3% of the horse’s body weight.

How much oaten hay should I feed my horse?

Remember, the general rule of thumb is to provide at least 1.5% of the horse’s bodyweight in forage per day. This works out to be 7.5kg per day for a 500kg horse.

Do horses need more hay when it’s cold?

The average horse requires approximately 20 lbs. of forage per day and winter weather can increase the amount of hay needed by 30 to 50%. For each decrease in coldness of one degree F below the critical temperature there is an increase in digestible energy requirements of one percent for body temperature maintenance.

How long does a square bale of hay last one horse?

In general, a standard 40 lb. square bale of hay lasts one horse for about 3.5 days. But many factors such as age, workload, type of hay, and access to pasture grass affect how much they eat. I find most horses eat between 10-15 pounds of hay each day.

Are slow feed hay nets good for horses?

Use a slow feed hay net Hay nets for horses are recommended by veterinarians to help them reduce the incidence of colic, stomach ulcers, stable vices and assist with reducing obesity. A slow feed hay net can significantly regulate the amount of hay consumption that results in better body weight.

How much hay should a horse have overnight?

Mine has 8-10 kg depending on if its a weekday or weekend! Its equivalent to one slice of the large baled hay and fills a large haylage net so 3/4 slices small baled hay per night.

Should horses have access to hay all day?

Conclusion. Horses don’t have to eat all the time, but having constant access to hay helps keep their digestive system working correctly. Allowing your horse to graze on pasture grass is safe and keeps them healthy.

How much hay should a 1000 pound horse eat a day?

Once you figure out how much your horse’s typical ration weighs, measure that portion at feeding time using a scoop, coffee can, or whatever suits your needs. The average thousand-pound horse who relies on hay for all their forage typically eats fifteen to twenty pounds of hay per day.

Is sweet feed good for horses?

Sweet feed is bad for horses —it’s nothing but sugar.” Although molasses does contain sugar, the molasses used in many modern sweet feed products has lower levels of sugar than that of yesteryear. And, as with any feed related condition, proper management can minimize the problem.

How many flakes of hay are in a bale?

Each bale has 16 flakes. The difference is 5.6 vs 7.2 lbs. To ensure that your horses are receiving the appropriate amount of hay, check the bale weight and average number of flakes per bale for each hay load.

Is oaten hay bad for horses?

Oaten / Wheaten hay known for being the ‘candy’ of hays. It is high in sugar + starch and is NOT recommended as a safe feed insulin resistant/laminitic prone horses. It is high in sugar + starch and is NOT recommended as a safe feed insulin resistant/laminitic prone horses.

Is oaten or wheaten hay better for horses?

Wheaten chaff is quite high in fibre and can be used as a low energy roughage. Oaten chaff is high in fibre, it is often considered softer, sweeter, flatter and more palatable than wheaten chaff. Oaten chaff also often contains high sugar and starch levels and poor mineral levels.

Is oat hay better than alfalfa?

When compared to alfalfa cut at the same level of maturity, oat grass hay is lower in crude protein and lower in digestible energy. To improve the protein quality often, oat grass hay is grown with legumes such as alfalfa.

How to Calculate How Much Hay to Feed Your Horse

Horses, as we all know, require either grass or hay to survive. As long as horses are eating grass, you will need to keep an eye on their condition and ensure that they are not eating excessively or insufficiently. Horses may easily get overweight when eating grass, especially if the pasture is abundant, but it is also possible for a horse to become overweight while eating hay. In addition, a horse who receives insufficient hay may become underweight. In other words, how much hay should you give to your horse?

On average, a full-grown horse should consume between 12 and 15 pounds (5.4 and 6.8 kg) of hay each day, according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture.

As a general rule, horses will require more or less based on their metabolism, workload, other foods they may be consuming, and the season of year they are in.

How to Feed Hay

Horses, as we all know, require either grass or hay to maintain their health. As long as horses are eating grass, you will need to keep an eye on their condition and ensure that they are not consuming excessive amounts or too little. If the pasture is rich, horses can easily overeat on grass, but it’s also possible for a horse to become overweight when fed hay. A horse can also become underweight if he is given insufficient forage. So, how much hay should you give your horse every week? The amount of feed that your horse will require will be determined by its size.

If it weighs around 1,000 pounds, that is 1.5 percent to 3 percent of its body weight (450 kg).

Compared to horses, largedraft breeds might consume as much as 30 pounds (13.6 kg) of food per day or more.

Small Square Bales

How much of a little square bale does that make up, on the other hand, is the next question. A typical bale of hay will have to be weighed, and this will be your task. It should weigh roughly 60 lbs (23 kg), or 60 kg in total. The actual weight of the bales will vary depending on how dry the hay is, how long they are, and how securely they have been packed in the bales. After that, count the number of flakes in the bale. The flakes are the readily separable parts that develop when a square bale is taken up by the baler and rolled into a cylinder.

Now, divide the weight of the bale by the number of flakes contained within it to arrive at a final answer.

Because one flake weighs around four pounds, you’ll need to feed your 1,000-pound horse five flakes every day. Keep in mind to feed in as many tiny servings as you can manage.

Ponies and Draft Breeds

Because ponies have a slower metabolism than horses, they will require less hay as a percentage of their body weight unless they are working really hard, which is something that very few ponies do these days. In order to keep their coats in good condition, little ponies may just require a handful of flakes every day. The opposite is true as well: certain draft horses, particularly those who work hard, will require more hay than the typical daily allowance. This is why it is so vital to routinely assess your horse’s condition, and make modifications depending on the how hot or cold it is, how hard they are working, how old they are, the richness of the hay, and the horse’s overall health.

Always consult your veterinarian for health-related inquiries, since they have evaluated your pet and are familiar with the pet’s medical history, and they can provide the most appropriate suggestions for your pet.

How Much Hay Does a Horse Eat? (Calculation Method)

Taking care of a horse requires a significant amount of effort. An open area, suitable handling and training, as well as frequent workouts and cleaning will be required for this. The most difficult aspect of horse care, on the other hand, is choosing the right diet for each individual horse. Inadequate or excessive feeding of your horses may harm their overall health. That is why it is important to calculate the appropriate amount of food, particularly hay, that each horse requires. The amount of hay a horse consumes on a daily basis will vary depending on its size and the amount of labor it performs.

Proper Feeding

Excessive feeding of a horse will result in an obese animal in the end. Many horses, believe it or not, lack self-control and will continue to eat even when they are completely satisfied. On the other side, failing to provide adequate nourishment to the horse will result in unhealthful weight loss and a lack of vigor. Additionally, the animal may become more susceptible to ailments, notably colic, in this situation. As you can see, understanding how much hay to provide your horse is critical to ensuring that it is kept in good condition.

As a result, it is critical to tailor the diet to meet the particular requirements of each individual patient.

Calculating the Right Amount of Hay

In order to begin, it’s important to understand that an average fully-grown horse weighing between 1,000 and 1,100 pounds (453.5 – 499 kg) should consume between 15 and 30 pounds (8 and 3.5 kg) of hay every day. This quantity is around 1.5 to 3 percent of the horse’s total body weight. Therefore, before estimating your horse’s daily portions, it is vital to take measurements of him. You will be able to adjust the diet more precisely in this manner. There are two techniques to figure out how much your horse weighs:


Measure the horse’s body length and girth with a measuring tape. Simple formulas may be used to easily compute its estimated weight, which is as follows: Adult horse weight in pounds is calculated as girth x girth x body length / 300.

Pony weight in pounds is calculated as girth x girth x body length / 299 Yearling weight in pounds is calculated as girth x girth x body length / 301 = yearling weight in pounds. Weanling weight in pounds is calculated as girth × girth x body length / 280.


To get a more precise measurement of your horse, invest in a livestock scale. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to come by or to obtain. Veterinary clinics and auction bars, for example, frequently carry livestock scales, so you may try weighing your horse in one of these locations.

Horses Requiring Special Attention

The amount of work your horse performs is the next factor to consider. For leisure trips that last a few hours every day, an average quantity of food should be sufficient for the duration. However, because the horse that is consistently used as a draft animal expends far more energy, it requires significantly more food. If the horse is still developing, or if the female mare is pregnant or nursing a foal, it is necessary to make changes to the horse’s nutrition as well.

Different Horse Breeds Feeding

Keep in mind that various horse breeds have varying nutritional requirements. To put it another way, draft breeds will require more hay than a horse of normal size. Horses such as the English Shire, a Belgian horse, or a French Percheron, for example, are substantially larger than typical horses and require significantly more food. These draft breeds are used for heavy labor and farm work, among other things. Because they frequently work longer hours every day, they require more meals to maintain their energy levels.

Ponies, on the other hand, are rarely put to work these days, as they are usually kept as riding companions for youngsters.

For example, a Shetland pony that weighs between 440 and 880 pounds (200 and 300 kg) each day will require between 4.4 to 13 pounds (1.9 to 5.9 kg) of hay.

Combined Diet

Maintain an awareness of the differences in nutritional requirements across horse breeds. Draft breeds require more hay than a horse of normal size, to put it another way. Examples include English Shires, Belgian draft horses, and French Percheron horses, all of which are far larger than standard draft horses and require significantly more food than standard draft horses. Heavy draft and farm work are performed by these draft breeds. Their energy requirements are higher since they frequently work longer hours.

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Ponies, on the other hand, that are significantly smaller than conventional horses and have a slower metabolism would consume far less hay than horses of the same size and weight.

The majority of ponies only require 1 to 1.5 percent of their body weight in food.

Combining Grains and Hay

The horse should be able to receive all of the nutrients he needs by simply eating forage (grass or hay) every day. If you decide to incorporate grains into your horse’s diet, you will need to lower the amount of hay he consumes. When feeding your horse just with hay, it is not difficult to determine the exact amount of each item. The same idea applies when feeding your horse with other foods. Consider the following scenario: you have a 1,000-pound horse (453.5 kg). That horse will require roughly 2.5 percent of its body weight in diet, which translates to approximately 25 pounds (11.5 kg) of grass, grain, and hay taken together.

If you provide your animal with 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of grains per day, basic math indicates that it will require 20 pounds (9 lb) of hay per day, on average. 25 pounds (2.3 kilogram) grain plus 20 pounds (9 kg) hay equals 5 pounds (2.3 kg) grain (11.5 kg)

Feeding a Horse with Hay in Winter

The horse should be able to receive all of the nutrients he needs from forage (grass or hay) alone. Because grains must be added to the diet of your horse, it is important to minimize the amount of hay given to the animal. In order to determine the right amount of each item, the same method that is used when feeding your horse simply hay must be followed. This process is straightforward. Consider this scenario: You own an 800-pound thoroughbred stallion (453.5 kg). That horse will require roughly 2.5 percent of its body weight in food, which translates to approximately 25 pounds (11.5 kg) of grass, grain, and hay when all three sources are included.

Grain weighs 5 pounds (2.3 kg), hay weighs 20 pounds (9 kg), and together they weigh 25 pounds (11.5 kg)

Feeding Routine

The general rule of thumb is to give your horse several, smaller servings of food throughout the year, not only when it is cold. This applies to all seasons. It is possible to mimic a horse’s natural technique of eating on a pasture in this manner. Horses have a unique digestive system, with a lengthy colon that is designed specifically for the digestion of plant fibers. The fact that a horse might suffer from colic if its colon is not routinely filled should be noted. In other words, if your horse does not consume enough calories, it may have belly pain.

The most effective method of keeping your horses healthy is to maintain a rigorous feeding schedule for them.

Keep in mind that horses have a precise internal clock, which means you must feed your animal at the same time each and every day.

Hay Bales and Flakes

When feeding a horse, it is beneficial to break hay into smaller quantities so that you can keep track of how much it consumes more accurately. It is possible to achieve this by splitting the hay bales into flakes, and then separating the bale portions by hand. It is not always possible to receive the same number of flakes from a bale, but you should expect to get at least a dozen flakes from each square bale. With the knowledge that an average bale of hay weighs around 60 pounds (23 kg), you can rapidly determine the weight of each flake.

When determining the weight of a bale, it is important to count the number of flakes contained within the bale and divide the weight of the bale by the number of flakes.

As previously stated, a horse weighing 1,000 pounds (453.5 kg) need 25 pounds (11.5 kg) of hay every day to maintain its weight.

As a result, you must provide it with five flakes of hay every day, preferably divided into five meals. Always remember that not all flakes weigh the same, so make sure you weigh them properly.


It is critical for the health of your horses that they receive the proper amount of hay each day. An average horse weighing 1,000 pounds (453.5 kg) requires around 15 to 30 pounds (6.8 – 13.5 kg) of hay per day, depending on his or her weight. When selecting your horse’s diet, you should take into account the size of your horse as well as the quantity of labor it undertakes.

Flakes of hay: How much to feed your horse?

The fact that horsesare non-ruminant herbivores, which means they have a single stomach digestive system, means that they can consume and use roughages in the same way as cattle or sheep can. Although horses do not have stomachs like cattle, their stomachs work in a manner similar to that of humans, in that feed particles are combined with pepsin, an enzyme that breaks down proteins, and hydrochloric acid, which breaks down solid particles. Although a horse stomach is relatively tiny in compared to the stomachs of other livestock animals, it can only hold roughly 10% of the overall capacity provided by the digestive system.

  1. Unfortunately, domesticated horses are only fed once or twice a day, and if they are stabled, they will go for long periods of time without eating.
  2. After the feed leaves the stomach, it travels into the small intestine, where the majority of the soluble carbohydrates, or sugars, and protein from the grain are digested and assimilated by the animal.
  3. The cecum is a blind sac that is effectively a 10-gallon fermentation vat that contains millions of microorganisms that break down the fibrous components of roughages.
  4. The breakdown of fibrous particles by microorganisms continues in the large colon, where water is also absorbed and fecal balls are generated and transmitted via the rectum (rectal passage).
  5. Increased soluble carbohydrates in the large intestine result in quick fermentation, which causes an excess generation of gas and lactic acid, which can result in colic and laminitis in horses.

How Much and How Often Horses Should Eat

A horse should be fed multiple short meals throughout the day in order to enhance digestion efficiency while also preventing digestion upset. Is it true that you don’t know how much your horse should be eating on a daily basis? The answer to this issue is dependent on the physiological situation of the animal (whether it is growing, pregnant, or breastfeeding), as well as the horse’s degree of job performance and effort. Consider, on the other hand, the ordinary pleasure horse who works 1–3 hours per week for a fee.

Forage should account for at least 65 percent of this total.

In feed, dry matter (DM) refers to the quantity of feed that does not include any water; the DM content of hay is significantly larger than the DM content of fresh grass.

Keep in mind that the hay analysis should reveal the DM content of your feed. For example, if you are feeding only grass and your hay has 90 percent DM (or 10 percent moisture), your 1,000-pound horse should be fed 20 pounds of hay (18 lb DM/0.9) per day right from the bale.

How to Properly Measure Hay

Weighing hay is the most accurate method of determining the proper quantity to use. However, according to a survey published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science (1), more than 85 percent of horse owners who participated in the survey reported measuring the quantity of hay supplied by flakes. When measuring hay using this approach, it is possible to overestimate the quantity of forage being consumed due to variations in forage type, size, and tightness of bales; hence, overestimating the amount of forage consumed is possible.

  1. In this case, the amount is arbitrary, such as one coffee can or a scoop of grain.
  2. You may easily measure feed quantities in flakes of hay or coffee cans of grain, provided that you first calculate how much each of those units weighs in actual pounds.
  3. It is preferable if this amount of food is provided in little portions at numerous times throughout the day.
  4. Have you discovered a reliable hay scale?
  5. References Adapted in part from Parker, R.2003.Horse Science, 2nd Edition, which is a comprehensive description of the equine digestive system.
  6. (1) Hoffman, C.J., L.R.
  7. Freeman published a paper in 2009 titled The feeding patterns, supplement usage, and understanding of equine nutrition among a subgroup of horse owners in New England were investigated using a questionnaire.
  8. Equine Vet.
  9. 29, pp.

How Much Hay To Feed Horses: Where To Begin

on September 13, 2018 and on September 12, 2019 The forages in horses’ diets are essential to their well-being, whether they are a mixture of pasture grasses or baled hay, or another forage product like hay cubes, hay pellets, and haylage. When it comes to meeting their nutritional requirements, horses are capable of consuming large volumes of hay. But where does a horse owner begin when choosing how much forage to feed? It is possible to make an educated guess based on the horse’s age, body weight, and physiologic status Here’s a simple reference table that illustrates the amount of fodder that horses are anticipated to consume.

Class of horse Amount of forage,percent of body weight Forage,percent of diet
Maintenance 1.0-2.0 50-100
Pregnant mare 1.0-2.0 50-85
Lactating mare (early) 1.0-2.5 33-85
Lactating mare (late) 1.0-2.0 20-60
Weanling 0.5-1.8 30-65
Yearling 1.0-2.5 33-80
Performance horse 1.0-2.0 33-80

Consider the following scenario, which makes use of the information in the table: you have a new adult gelding in your care who has to be broken in. He’ll be used as a walk-trot trail horse once or twice a week, depending on the weather. His weight is estimated to be 1,150 pounds by the weigh-tape (520 kg). A maintenance horse or a low-level performance horse, depending on his future workload, would be the best classification for him. “Using the table, we would estimate that this gelding should consume 1.0-2.0 percent of his body weight in good-quality forage per day, which would be approximately 11.5-23 lb (5.2-10.5 kg),” said Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research.

However, while this knowledge may be used to start a forage-feeding program, feeding horses is a combination of science and art. Because forage intake is determined by a variety of circumstances, it may be necessary to fine-tune the diet. These considerations are as follows:

  • The quality of the forage. High-quality hays carry more calories and nutrients, allowing more or less to be fed depending on a horse’s nutritional requirements
  • Forage choices tailored to the specific needs of each particular horse. All horses demand hay that is free of dust, mold, and other impurities, but not all horses require nutrient-dense hays
  • Some horses require ordinary hay, while others require average hay. There are several factors that contribute to this, including metabolism (easy keepers vs. hard keepers)
  • And digestive-health issues. Horses are designed to chew on grass for the most of the day
  • Failing to do so might result in gastrointestinal disorders, such as stomach ulcers
  • And

All-forage diets do not include appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals, thus it is necessary to supplement with a suitable product to get optimal results. Kentucky Equine Research has developed vitamin and mineral supplements that are acceptable for horses that are solely fed grass and hay. Are you perplexed as to the best way to feed your horse? Contact a nutritionist at Kentucky Equine Research now for a no-obligation consultation.

Winter Hay 101: How Much to Feed Your Horse (And Why)

Summer has come and gone in the flash of an eye, and with it, another season. As winter arrives, we adjust our regular routines to make the chilly days a little more bearable. Here are some suggestions. A hearty “yeah” for headbands, fuzzy socks, and pumpkin spice lattes, please. But what about preparing our horses for the winter? I know that if you are anything like me, there are few things that bring me as much worry and anxiety as trying to keep my horse happy and healthy throughout the year.

As a new horse owner, I spent a lot of time researching all I needed to know about my horses before the weather turned cold.

Why Hay Matters (A Lot)

Grass hay may not appear to be a huge issue, but it is one of the most important ways you can contribute to the health of your horse all year long. It helps to maintain general wellbeing and helps to keep them at an appropriate weight. When the seasons change, it can have an affect on how much and what you feed your horse, as well as what else you might need to add to his or her diet to supplement it. In this post, I’ll walk you through the measures you must follow to ensure that your horse’s winter haydiet is properly provided.

Feedingenoughhay is essential

Okay, that’s wonderful. But how on earth can you determine when something is “enough?” And how can you explain for the decline in winter temperatures that has occurred? Horses, like all other creatures, require energy to survive, and that energy is given by the calories found in the meals they consume. For horses, hay or pasture serves as their major source of energy or calories (i.e. forage and fiber sources). If pasture grass is scarce throughout the winter, you’ll need to supplement the diet with a significant amount of hay to keep the herd’s energy levels up.

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Always start with hay

When planning your horse’s winter diet, hay should always be the first thing on your list. Your first objective should be to feed your horse with the “proper” quantity of energy/calories that he or she requires, which may be accomplished through hay. Consider this the quantity of energy (provided by hay) required to maintain your horse’s “maintenance level,” which is also known as your horse’s baseline of ideal weight and Body Condition Score (Don Henneke Ph.D., 1979, Texas A M, “A measure of body fat and condition”) over the year.

With this in mind, begin by providing 1.5-2.5 percent of the horse’s whole body weight in hay alone on a daily basis to begin.

Pro Tip: Because quality is crucial, I always look for the highest-quality hay available.

To determine the quality of the hay, you must either have it tested or inquire with your hay provider about if they have a testing certificate.

Are you interested in learning more about hay? Check read our blog post about Horse Hay Frequently Asked Questions: List of Hay Types, Which Hay is the Best, and so on.

How do I make changes to the amount of hay for winter months?

The first thing that will necessitate the feeding of *extra* hay (i.e., more than what you would normally feed in “mild” weather to keep the animals healthy) is the temperature outdoors. The WARMING EFFECT of hay on your horse is highest when it is being digested. That basically implies that if a horse is eating and digesting hay, he is generating heat that is used to warm his body from the inside out, which is called thermogenesis. The North Dakota State University’s Carrie Hammer states that “for every ten-degree drop below 32 degrees F, horses require an increased intake of around 2 pounds of grain each day.” Additional harsh winter circumstances, such as wind, rain, snow, or ice, must be taken into consideration *in addition to* the rise in temperature owing to outside weather.

“A 10- to 15-mph wind will need horses to ingest an additional 4 to 8 pounds of hay in order to fulfill their higher energy requirements,” Hammer further says.

Check out our top 5 picks for the best winter riding jackets.

Changes in thewayyou feed hay

To purchase this slow feeder from Amazon, please click here. Horses squander their hay. It’s a discouraging reality, but they all accept it. I propose employing a hay bag or a slow-feeder grazing system, especially during the winter months. Due to the horse having to take bits out of the small holes, less waste is produced, which allows for more hay to remain in the bag and less waste to end up on the ground. The second advantage is that it slows down the horse’s feeding rate, which allows the horse to digest for a longer period of time.

How often should I offer hay to my horse?

As a result of many winters spent with horses, I’ve grown to appreciate the detrimental consequences of allowing a horse to go too long without meals. When the weather is severe and a horse is forced to go for long periods of time between meals, it can be difficult for them to maintain their body temperature. A shock to the system might cause the body to go into overdrive and begin burning stored fat and muscle to generate energy for heat. During the frigid winter months, I make it a point to feed hay at least three times every day.

It is critical to ensure that horses have enough hay to last them through the night.

Winter Horse Feeding Infographic

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! In “mild months,” a horse should take between 1.5 and 2.5 percent of their body weight in hay per day to maintain their maintenance level. Adding *an additional* 2 pounds of hay for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit reduction in temperature below 32 degrees F is advised.

As an example, if the temperature is 30 degrees, a 1,000-pound horse that normally consumes 18 pounds of hay to maintain his or her maintenance level would require 20 pounds of hay.

Q: How many bales of hay does a horse eat per month?

It is common for horses to consume between 15 and 25 pounds of hay per day, which is about equivalent to half of a 45/50-pound square bale of hay per day (or between 15 to 30 bales per month). Always keep in mind that the quality of your hay should be taken into account. If the hay’s nutritional value is low, the horse will require more hay (by weight).

Q: Why is getting a Body Condition Score so important?

The Horse Body Fat Tracking System was created to make it simple and practical for horse owners to understand, track, and record the amount of body fat present in their horses. It is accomplished by sensing six important points on the body. Body fat, in conjunction with muscular mass, shows condition, providing you with a clearer picture of how physically healthy your horse is. Similarly to us, our bodyweight may not often provide a clear representation of our total health and fitness level. I cannot emphasize enough how vital this information is, and how making it a normal practice may be critical to maintaining any horse in peak health and performance!

“I’m not overweight.I’m fluffy!” Have you ever heard someone say something like this?

But what exactly lies beneath the surface?

Only a Body Condition Score, which necessitates physical contact with the horse, can provide you with this information.

Q: How do I figure out how many calories my horse needs each day?

It is recommended that you consult the National Research Council – Nutrient Requirements of Horses, which provides extensive tables detailing exactly what your horse requires in terms of nutrients. You’ll see in this chart how parameters particular to horses, such as age, breed, workload, and weight, are taken into consideration when determining energy requirements. You may also find up the nutritional value of any horse feed you want to buy (forage and grains). The most accurate approach to determine the nutritional composition of your hay, however, is to have it tested.

Test Yourself: Winter Hay Feeding Quiz

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Estimating Winter Hay Needs

In response to the following question:We recently acquired a farm and will be boarding our two quarter horses there for the winter. During the winter, they are used as trail horses and are not ridden. Given that I’ve always boardinged my horses, I’m not sure how to estimate the amount of hay I’ll require for the winter months. Is it possible for you to give any guidelines? A maintenance adult horse will take between 2 and 2.5 percent of his or her bodyweight in feed (hay and grain) per day, according to the USDA.

  • The horse would consume approximately 5,350 pounds of hay, or 2.7 tons, during the period from October 15 to May 15 (when there is no pasture in Minnesota). The equivalent of 107 fifty-pound tiny squarebales or six 900-pound roundbales would be produced during this period. This number would be doubled if there were two horses: 214 little squarebales or 12 roundbales. It is vital to understand the weight of the hay bales since not all bales are created equal.

In Minnesota, a horse would consume approximately 5,350 pounds of hay, or 2.7 tons, from October 15 to May 15 (when there is no pasture). During this time period, this would equate to 107 fifty-pound tiny square bales or six 900-pound round bales. This number would be increased if there were two horses; 214 little squarebales or 12 roundbales; and When working with hay bales, it is vital to understand their weight; not all hay bales are the same weight.

  • Over the course of the year, the horse would consume around 4,280 pounds of hay, or 2.1 tons
  • This would equal 86 fifty-pound tiny square bales or five 900-pound round bales. This quantity would be doubled if there were two horses
  • 172 small-square bales or ten circular bales would be needed.

These estimations are based on the assumption that excellent quality hay is put into a feeder in order to prevent hay waste. When feeding tiny squares or bales, hay waste when no feeder was used (hay fed on the ground) was roughly 13 percent, but hay waste when a feeder was used was just 1 to 5 percent. When feeding huge round bales of hay, not using a feeder resulted in 57 percent hay waste, but utilizing a feeder resulted in 5 to 33 percent hay loss when using a feeder. It’s usually a good idea to buy a little extra hay just in case your horses require some extra nutrition during the harsh winter months (depending on their access to shelter).

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Photographs courtesy of IHemera Technologies/ Images When it comes to your horse’s nutrition, forage is one of the most crucial components. The majority of a domesticated horse’s fodder diet comes from hay. The amount of hay your horse requires on a daily basis may vary depending on his size and how active he is. The quantity of nutrients included in the hay plays an important part in determining how much hay is required to maintain a healthy animal.

How Much Hay Does Your Horse Need

The Humane Society of the United States and Louisiana State University both believe that a horse’s roughage intake should be between 1 and 2 percent of his body weight on a daily basis. If your horse has unrestricted access to abundance of greenery, grass may be used as a source of feed for him. If you live in an area where there is little grass, you must ensure that your horse’s diet is supplemented with hay. According to Louisiana State University, an average 1000-pound horse requires around 10 to 20 pounds of hay each day.

Bales of Hay

Bale weights will vary based on the type of hay used and the settings on the baling equipment that is being used to bale the hay. The weight of an ordinary square hay bale is roughly 50 pounds on average. You will need to give your horse between a quarter and a half of a bale of hay every day in order to supply him with the proper amount of hay.

Hay Quality

Some varieties of hay are more nutrient-dense than others, so choose wisely. It is important to note that Alfalfa is a high-quality hay, and if you are giving a high-quality hay, you will not need to feed as much hay or supplement with grain. Poor grade hay will have few nutrients and will be offered primarily to provide roughage to keep the digestive tract working rather than to supply the nourishment that the animal requires to thrive. If you are giving your horse low-quality hay, you will need to supplement his diet with concentrated nourishment in the form of grain to compensate.

Feeding Your Horse

Every horse is an individual with his or her own set of nutritional requirements. Some horses acquire weight quickly and easily maintain a healthy weight with little work, but others struggle to maintain an acceptable weight despite their efforts.

If your horse is losing weight, you must either feed him additional hay or increase the amount of grain he consumes on a regular basis in order to keep him at a healthy weight. References Photographic Credits

Biography of the AuthorJen Davis has been writing professionally since 2004. She has worked as a newspaper reporter, and her freelance stories have appeared in publications such as “Horses Incorporated,” “The Paisley Pony,” and “Alabama Living.” She is a member of the National Press Women’s Association. Davis graduated from Berry College in Rome, Georgia, with a Bachelor of Arts in communication with a specialization in journalism in 2012.

Do Horses Need Hay Around the Clock? – The Horse

Q. Do horses require hay at all times of the day? I’ve heard that horses require hay to be maintained in front of them at all times, but that they don’t require access to hay at all times of the day. During the morning, I give my 20-year-old horse 8 ounces of protein feed mixed with two to three flakes of hay, and then I send him out on his pasture in the afternoon until it gets dark. I bring him in now that it’s dark around 5:30 p.m., but I don’t give him any hay for the night since it’s too cold.


When it comes to your question, there are essentially just two options:

  1. Is your horse receiving enough nourishment to satisfy his or her nutritional requirements? Is your horse receiving enough nutrition to maintain good gut health?

I’ll make an attempt to handle both of these issues using some basic ideas, and I hope you’ll find it useful. That some horse owners/barns maintain fodder in front of their animals 24 hours a day is accurate, while others meal feed their horses is also correct. If you think about where horses came from, you’ll see that they developed in an environment where they could feed at any time of day or night. Because the grass available was of little nutritional value, they were forced to consume large quantities of it, and their digestive systems developed as a result.

  1. Traditionally, our domesticated horses were fed first thing in the morning before they went to their places of employment.
  2. Even though few horses labor all day and this pattern of feeding goes against the natural architecture of their digestive systems, meal feeding has remained our standard method of feeding horses.
  3. Applying these principles to your horse results in a combination of the two as you meal feed, but your horse also has access to pasture for at least a portion of each day.
  4. In the meanwhile, there is no feed accessible over night.
  5. Nonetheless, it is the number of horses that are fed.
  6. Consequently, providing some food after returning from pasture may be beneficial to gastrointestinal health, particularly now that you are bringing your horse in earlier and the amount of time spent in the stall without grass has risen.
  7. Obviously, the first factor, and the one I’ll be concentrating on here, is calories–are you consuming enough calories to keep your body in good condition?
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Given that horses have been proven to consume the most grass when first turned out, it is possible that lowering turnout time will have little or no effect on overall pasture intake.

There is a significant decrease in the rate of plant development, which means your horse is unlikely to be collecting as many calories from his pasture as he did throughout the summer and early fall months.

Due to the fact that I am unable to establish the present state of your horse, I cannot decide whether this would be good or detrimental to your horse.

Feeding some hay as you bring your horse in would accomplish this goal while also alleviating the problem of a long nighttime period without feed for your horse.

In this circumstance, instead of increasing hay consumption, you may feed some of the morning hay in the evening to supplement it.

Some horses are able to withstand regular access to grass without accumulating an unwelcome amount of weight.

However, not all horses adapt to this, even when the hay has a poor nutritional content, and as a result, they gain excessive weight and must have their consumption restricted.

According to research, the majority of adult horses in grazing circumstances ingest 1.5-2 percent of their body weight in dry matter each day on average.

Hopefully, when you review these basic recommendations and your present feeding regimen, they can assist you in determining how to make the most effective feeding adjustments if you think that changes are necessary.

How Much Hay Does An Adult Horse Need

Adult horses should have daily hay, grain, and grass quantities recommended by a veterinarian, according to the report. According to Question: I recently relocated my horse, a 5-year-old warmblood gelding, to a different barn. What should I do now? Recently, I discovered that the amount of hay they consume is really limited. Every morning, they receive one flake of salt, and every evening, they receive two flakes of salt. They also get grain twice a day, which is a lot. Every day, for around seven hours, the horses are sent out in a field where there is no vegetation.

  1. How much hay does a warmblood horse require that is exercised moderately every day for around an hour require?
  2. A typical rule of thumb is that a horse requires half a bale of hay every day to meet his or her basic nutritional requirements.
  3. The amount of hay you should feed the horse is strongly influenced by the sort of hay you use.
  4. Timothy hay, which is a grass, is less nutritious but may be fed in considerably greater quantities.
  5. The time at which the hay is harvested has an impact on the quality of the hay.
  6. An analysis of hay at a facility such as Holmes Laboratory, which tests for protein, digestible nutrients, and other feed components, is the most scientific technique to establish the appropriate amount of hay for a specific horse.
  7. Mature horses require a crude protein content of 10 to 12 percent in their meals.

An energy-dense grain concentrate can be used to augment the ration, boosting the amount of energy it contains as well as its protein, vitamin, and mineral content.

At the very least, a 1,000-pound horse need 10 pounds of hay each day as a starting point.

On excellent quality hay, mature horses may maintain their weight and health while being turned out or doing very minimal labor.

Using a weight tape to measure your horse and keeping track of the results on a regular basis can assist you in noticing any changes.

Hay is not only a food requirement, but it is also a physiological necessary.

Horses have evolved to consume food on a continuous basis; as a result, they create stomach acid on a continuous basis.

Horses are happiest when they are able to munch practically constantly throughout the day.

The practice of veterinarian Carolyn R.

Her specialization is educating new horse owners who are eager to offer the finest possible care for their animals.

Horse trials at Training Level and dressage competitions at Second Level are among the events in which she has competed. Pony Club is something that both of her girls are participating in.

How Much Hay Does a Horse Eat Daily?

Hay is only for the horses! That means you haven’t been around horses for very long if you haven’t heard this expression! Horses are well-known around the world for consuming hay as one of their major and basic diets. But how much hay does a horse consume on a daily basis? Horses consume a variety of foods, including grain, oats, grass, and a variety of goodies (carrots, apples, horse biscuits, peppermints, and so on), but hay is the food that they are most known for. However, feeding hay may not be as straightforward as it appears.

While there is no easy answer to this issue, I will address how a horse’s lifestyle, a horse’s size, and a horse’s age may all have an impact on how much hay your horse should be consuming on a daily basis!

How Much Hay Does a Horse Eat, Lifestyle

So how much hay should a horse consume on a daily basis? It all depends, as it always does. One of the most important variables to consider is the horse’s way of life (or lack thereof). Every horse has a particular timetable and follows a different pattern than the others. Some horses, for example, are permitted to go outside 24 hours a day, while others are just given an hour or two of turnout every day. There are some horses that are let out on green pastures, and there are some horses who live in regions where green pasture turnout is not a feasible choice for them.

  • Forage, sometimes known as “roughage,” is the most important component of a horse’s diet.
  • There are many more.
  • Horses can also benefit from the grass as a source of feed.
  • The same is true for horses that do not have access to grass and may require additional hay.
  • The precise amount of hay a horse requires will vary depending on a variety of circumstances, but when choosing the appropriate amount of hay to give, it’s crucial to consider how much access to grass your horse has.

How Much Hay Does a Horse Eat, Size of Horse

The amount of food that a horse consumes is entirely dependent on the size of the horse. This pertains to the quantity of hay, grain, oats, or any other feed that a horse has available to him at any one time. The amount of food required varies from situation to situation; some horses require weight loss, some require weight increase, and yet others are attempting to maintain their current weight. Fortunately, there are several tools available to assist you in determining how much food your horse should consume based on its size.

  1. In the event that you are still unsure about the appropriate quantity, there are several internet resources that may assist you.
  2. Using the following link, you may access the Purina Horse Feeding Calculator: An additional resource developed by the Equine Research Institute is a handy table that calculates how much fodder a horse should be receiving in percentages based on the horse’s size and age.
  3. Ponies will require a different quantity of hay than draft horses, and draft horses will want a different amount of hay than pregnant mares, and pregnant mares will require a different amount of hay than sporthorses, and so on.
  4. Although your horse’s height or “type” will never change, his “size” will be altered by the amount of weight he loses or gains over the course of his life.

Increasing the flake count of your horse throughout the winter months may be a wise decision in order to assist him maintain a healthy weight during the winter months. Despite the fact that your horse does not alter in height or “type,” his “size” is impacted by the loss or increase of weight.


According to averages, the majority of the horses at my stable enjoy 8-hour turnout with access to grass and hay outside everyday, are categorized as performance horses, and receive around three flakes of hay twice a day on the premises. So there are a total of six flakes inside, as well as full access to grass and hay for eight hours. They also consume two meals of grain supplemented with vitamins, as well as any goodies that their owners provide for them. These are horses that are subjected to virtually daily exercise routines.

It is possible that horses that are retired from working or who only work once or twice a week would require less hay.

As a result of his research, Dr.

As a result, for a 1,000-pound horse, this may amount to anything between 15 and 25 pounds of grass and hay consumed every day.


In the case of horses, the amount of hay they require each day is absolutely subjective! In other words, there is no single, all-encompassing answer to this topic. The amount of hay a horse should consume on a daily basis is totally dependent on the size, condition, and lifestyle of each individual horse. When making these decisions, always seek the advice of your veterinarian, manager, or trainer. Also, make use of tools such as the Purina Horse Feed Calculator and the Kentucky Equine Research Institute’s forage table to help you with your feeding decisions.

If so, please spread the word about this post and share your experiences with us when it comes to setting feeding schedules!


The amount of hay consumed is determined by the type of horse, the size of the bale, the workload, the horse’s level of activity, access to pasture, and the quality of the hay available. The majority of horses, on the other hand, consume between 10-15 pounds of hay every day. As a result, a regular 40 lb. square bale of hay will feed one horse for around 3.5 days on average.

Can you overfeed hay to a horse?

It’s not difficult to overfeed hay to a horse at times. Ingesting an excessive amount of hay may cause the horse to get unwell as a result of difficulty digesting it. Due to the fact that horses are extremely sensitive to the amount of food they consume, it is essential that you avoid overfeeding them. Equine metabolic syndrome and laminitis are two disorders of the horse’s body that can develop as a result of overfeeding. A set of indications and symptoms that afflict the horse athlete is referred to as the Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS).

Horses, as well as other species such as dogs, cats, donkeys, and humans, have been shown to have emergency medical services.

How much hay should a 1000 lb horse eat?

If a thousand-pound horse is simply given hay, he will consume around fifteen to twenty pounds of hay each day on average. But what is the Optimal Amount of Hay to use in a crop? For example, according to the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, the amount of hay required to maintain the nutritional needs of adult horses varies considerably, depending on their breed and type as well as their age, body condition, level of activity, environmental conditions, and the availability of feed.

Should horses have hay all time?

It is recommended that horses have regular access to hay in order to assist maintain their digestive systems functioning properly. That does not imply that a horse needs to eat all of the time, but rather that he is free to graze on pasture or chew on hay whenever he feels the need to do so. Consequently, a horse will only consume little amounts of food at a time, allowing his digestive system to work properly without becoming overburdened with food.

How much hay will an acre grow?

It’s impossible to say how much hay you can produce on an acre since there are no hard and fast laws, but the more nutrients your soil has, the more hay you should be able to produce. You must keep in mind that the quality of your forage is limited by the amount of nutrients available in the soil where you are growing it. The average production of hay per acre is between 1 and 2 tons every cutting, depending on the season. Some grasses can produce far more than others, although this is generally the consequence of a particularly productive growth season.

In order for all plants to reach maturity, the growing season should be lengthy enough to accommodate this.

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