Hay is dried grass and plants, and it’s what horses eat when pasture grass is unavailable.
Horses like to stick to a routine—their internal clocks are better than their owners are. With that in mind, when feeding a horse, try and stick to a consistent schedule. Also, you should not feed them right before or after exercise. Ideally, the horse should be calm, cool and relaxed at feeding time—not hot, sweaty and breathing hard.
Most horses rely on high-quality hay for essential nutrients to keep healthy. Mature horses eat 2 to 2.5 percent of their body weight daily, and at least half of that should be hay for roughage.
When you choose hay to feed your horse, look for the fine-stemmed, green and leafy options—kind of like when you’re at the grocery store looking for the best lettuce and greens to feed yourself and your family. Avoid hay that smells or looks moldy, musty, dusty or fermented. If it’s really dirty, weed-filled, or laced with trash, it’s not meant for your horse.
If you’re buying hay from someone unfamiliar, examine it for bugs, like blister beetles in alfalfa. You don’t want your horses to endure the problems that stem from feeding your horse hay that’s infested with insects or disease.
When actually feeding hay to horses, you can opt to put it on the floor of their stall, or in a hanging rack, bag or net. Since they poop on the ground, it’s preferable to have their hay hanging up to eat. It should be at wither height—easily accessible, not too high up or too low for their mouth to reach.
Ideally, hay that has been harvested within the past year has the best nutritional value, and if the bales seem abnormally heavy or warm to the touch, that could be a sign that they’ve got too much moisture, which means mold-potential. Avoid heavy, warm hay bales.
Storing hay inside a sturdy, functional barn is important to keep it away from moisture—this way it doesn’t get rained or snowed on.
Deer Creek Structures can customize your horse’s feeding station, and build a special section in a portable barn to store hay. We can tailor it to meet the specific needs of the owner and the horse. If you would like to learn more, please give us call at 254-546-2276.