Roughage makes up the vast majority of a horse’s diet in the wild, and should make up at least 50% of your horse’s daily intake. However, it can be pretty damn expensive!
Ideally, you should be feeding about 1.5%-3.5% of a horse’s body weight depending on the production stage of the animal (growth, lactation etc).
Follow these handy tips to reduce your hay feeding costs.
Purchase hay out of paddocks
If you live in a rural area and are able to purchase hay locally, consider asking your hay supplier if you can purchase hay “off the field.”
This means that you pick up your hay on the day it was baled, saving the farmer the trouble of handling it. Many farmers prefer this, and you can usually secure a lower per-bale price. Be aware, it can be a lot of work, and you’ll have to have access to a vehicle and trailer suitable for the task. If you don’t mind using your muscles, buying hay off the field can be a valuable money-saver.
Bulk purchases of feed can be cheaper than buying by the bag, bale or roll. If you have a way to store feed, check with your local farmers’ co-op or feed store and compare prices.
Alternatively you can combine orders with friends, neighbours or other agistees to ‘group buy’ and take advantage of bulk prices.
Nutritionists have estimated that when fed outside in a group situation, horses waste as much as 20% of what they’re given.
Quality:Horses waste considerably less when they’re given high quality hay. Compared to when they have to sort through piles of weedy, wispy, mouldy, or impossibly coarse stuff to find anything of nutritional value. Therefore, there’s no point in paying 50 cents less per bale if your horse wastes three times as much as he would have if you bought better quality hay.
Nets: Feeding hay from a hay net will reduce wastage especially when soaking hay or feeding compressed hay. They’re even better for feeding in wet or windy weather as there is less wastage. You can find small haynets for biscuits of hay – and large nets if you feed round rolls.
If you’re a home-made junkie – check out our article on how to make your own round roll net for less than $40.
Round vs square hay:
In a very loose estimation there is the equivalent of 10 – 15 square bales in a round roll.
When your average square bale can cost between $16 – $20 and a round bale will set you back between $60 – $70 – it makes much more sense to feed a high quality hay from round bales.
We all know that owning a horse is never going to be cheap. However, with a few handy tips shared among friends – we can help each other to keep the costs as low as possible (without compromising on quality of course).
Do you have any money saver tips when it comes to feeding hay?