Factors to Consider When Calculating Hay Amounts

Image of horses in shelter.

Winter is here and it’s important to that you have enough hay in your barn until the pastures are growing again in Spring. This may seem like a tedious task, but taking these factors into consideration can make your decision easier.

Take these factors into consideration:

Number of animals is often something that is overlooked because it’s so basic. With more animals, more hay is needed. Be sure to factor in animals you’ll be selling, purchasing or new animals that will be born during the colder months to plan accordingly.

Weight of animals is another basic factor, but important. If your animals are larger they will need more hay to sustain themselves through the colder months.

Length of season is one of the most important factors to consider when calculating the amount of hay you’ll need. This can vary depending on where you are located and the climate of the area. In the southern half of the United States, animals can forage much later in the fall and earlier in the spring. Animals in the northern part of the country are much more dependent on hay to sustain themselves through the cold, winter months. In Indiana, a majority of hay is needed from October through March. It’s best to limit foraging due to pasture damage which can keep animals from reaching peak production.

Temperatures will also impact the amount of hay consumed by animals. In extreme temperatures, high caloric intake is necessary for survival. If the climate of your area reaches below zero for longer periods of time, your animals hay intake may be on the higher side.

Keeping all these factors in mind will ensure that your season is successful and your animals well taken care of.

H-8 Horse Hay Feeder

How Much Hay Are You Saving?

ring bale hay feeder
An old, traditional ring bale hay feeder losing hay

If you are still using an old hay feeder, you are likely wasting hay, time and money. Traditional hay feeders are not equipped to effectively contain hay and therefore hay ends up being blown or moved around outside the feeder. This causes hay to be lost and needed time for clean up or the hay.

The hay saver hay feeder is specifically designed to cover the hay in the feeder while still allowing horses and cattle to feed. The folding grills hold the hay down to protect blowing from the wind and prevent it from being tossed by the livestock. Hay therefore remains in the feeder as opposed to around the feeder. The hay saver hay feeder is over 93% efficient at containing hay.

The fold down grills also prevent horses and cattle from burying their heads into the bale eliminating any breathing problems caused from inhaling hay dust or eye irritation. Better health for your horses and cattle also equates to less money on care and veterinary bills.

hay saver hay feeder
The hay saver hay feeder containing hay for horses

In addition, many traditional hay feeders are made of materials that tend to break down or rust out. Hay saver hay feeders are built from high quality durable materials that are designed to withstand the elements with an average life span of 20 or more years.

View our hay savings comparison chart and photos of traditional hay feeders vs the hay saver hay feeder.

Horses Eating

The Best Way to Feed your Horse

To keep your horse in optimal health, there are some guidelines that should be followed for feeding. Whether it’s the type of food or when they are fed, changes in a horse’s food regimen can mean the difference between a happy horse and one that is ill tempered.

Feed Horses on a Regular Schedule

As with many animals, horses do best when a regular schedule is followed. They feel most comfortable when they can rely on when they will get their next meal. Whether you are feeding your horses in the field with a hay feeder or in their stall, horses will thrive by sticking to a regular routine.

If Feeding Grain, Consider Smaller Amounts

While hay should be the primary food source, if you are supplementing your horse’s diet with grain, try not to feed them too much at one time. When fed grain in smaller amounts, horses do better digesting the feed.

Don’t Make Any Sudden Change in Your Horses Feeding Routine

Whether it’s changing the time of day or the type of food you are feeding your horse, a sudden change can cause unnecessary stress. If you do need to change something, do it gradually so that the horse can adjust. Therefore, if you are changing the feeding time, do so in small time increments until you get to the final adjusted time.

Be Mindful of When Your Horse is Fed

It’s best not to feed your horse just before or after exercise. Exercising on a full stomach can make exercise harder for horses and can also slow down digestion. Therefore if you are planning on riding your horse, be aware of their feed schedule and work around that.

Hay Saver Hay Feeder for Horses

The Benefits of Using Hay Saver Feeders

After using a hay saver hay feederBefore using a hay saver hay feederWhen it comes to hay waste, using the right type of hay feeder can make a significant difference in saving hay, money and time. That’s why it’s important to understand all of the positive benefits that come along with using hay saver feeders.

Confining hay within a feeder helps to eliminate waste by nearly 40%. While that may not seem like an overwhelming percentage, the significance comes into play when you consider the cost of hay as well as the amount of time and work it takes to haul it, stack it, store it and deliver it to the horses.

How Hay Saver Hay Feeders are Beneficial for Horses

Less hay waste directly correlates to better feed efficiency for horses. In comparison to slow feeders, hay saver feeders are more beneficial to horses as they are less likely to overeat because they can eat freely, whereas slow feeders can oftentimes create stress for horses because of the time it takes to consume the hay. Choking, vomiting, gastrointestinal discomfort and bloating can also occur through the use of slow feeders. In contrast, with hay saver feeders, horses suffer fewer of these respiratory effects from inhaling less dust by not sticking their faces directly into the hay. In short, eating from a hay saver feeder reduces ingestion of dirt and sand, which reduces the incidence of colic related to that sort of debris in the GI tract. Hay saver feeders ensure that horses stay healthy and well-fed because their feed remains as fresh as possible.

How Hay Saver Hay Feeders are Beneficial for Horse Owners

While hay saver feeders reap several benefits for horses, they’re also cost-beneficial to horse owners. The less hay that is wasted, the more money you can save. An overall decrease in wasted hay will more than pay the cost of the hay feeders themselves.
It’s no secret that one of the largest expenses that come along with owning a horse is the cost of feed. Anything you can do to prevent a rise in cost can positively affect not only your wallet, but your horse, too.

Horse Hay Feeder

Horse and Cattle Nutrition

Without the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals, horses, cattle and other livestock could suffer from poor nutrition. For optimal growth, it is important your livestock is getting the proper nutrients.

Most feeds are simply designed to be the primary source of food for animals, while others are designed with a primary focus on animals eating forage with extra protein and energy so if necessary, they can improve their diet.

For horses, most do not need grain as good quality hay will suffice. And, while grain can be added, the majority of their nutrition should come from roughage. This makes ensuring you contain as much hay as possible in a hay feeder important in order to save hay and money.

If you do feed your horse grain, it should be given in small amounts as they can’t digest large amounts effectively.  Find out more about the best way to feed your horse.

When it comes to feed, it isn’t always ‘one-size-fits-all.’ Your horse and/or cattle will have unique needs, so it is important to be aware of which feeds will be best for them based on their nutritional needs.

Different types of feed include:

  • Pelleted cattle feed (ingredients are formed into small pellets)
  • Sweet feed (comes from fresh grains)
  • Block feed (formed into solid blocks)

Similarly, there are different types of minerals that are important for your cattle’s’ health. Minerals can be loose, separated in mineral feeders, or if preferred, they can be added to normal feed the same way humans would add salt onto food, whereas block minerals are meant for animals to lick.

To keep your animal’s energy up, be sure to provide ample water, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.