View Full Version : How many pounds of pasture grass can a horse eat?

Oct. 26, 2009, 05:18 PM
Does anyone have any idea how many pounds of pasture grass a horse can eat (without a muzzle) either per hour or some other method of measuring. I have an article from Horse & Rider magazine dated December, 1998 where they state "a hungry horse will eat an average of 1-1/2 pounds of grass per hour." Just curious to see if anyone has any other information.

Thanks for your input.

Oct. 26, 2009, 08:39 PM
I would be interested in this also. My normally pasture boarded boy has been on stall rest for the past week. I've been hand-grazing him for about an hour and a half every morning (the rest of the day he's given hay.) Since I want to make sure he gets a good feed from the grazing, I've been trying to mentally calculate volume and weight of what he's grazing on, but I haven't come up with any exact numbers.

Oct. 26, 2009, 08:46 PM
I'm pretty sure I've read it recently in Equus mag. I'll see if I can still find it for you.

Oct. 26, 2009, 08:48 PM
The study I saw said an average 1000lb horse eats 4lb of grass an hour, and grazes 16-20 hours a day (assuming out 24x7). The amount per hour goes up if the horse's time is restricted.

1.5lb of grass, which is roughly 75% water, is not a lot of volume, and not something a hungry horse would stop at.

So, with the 4lb/hour for 16-20 hours, that's 64-80lb of grass a day. Given the roughly 25% dry matter, that's about 16-20lb of "hay", right in line with the 1.5-2% body weight requirements.

Oct. 27, 2009, 01:47 AM
My Palomino will eat ALL the grass right down to the roots, in almost every pasture short of an 80 acre irrigated pasture :D

Once a boarding barn said "We've just never seen a horse eat as much as yours." Great to know we are so special ;)

Oct. 27, 2009, 05:23 PM
Most horses will eat around 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of pasture dry matter per hour, if it is available. Since grass, as JB mentioned, can be up to 75% water, that adds up to quite a bit of the fresh forage!

Given completely free-choice access to good pasture, a mature horse can (and will, in many cases) easily consume 3-3.5% of his body weight in dry matter per day. That's a LOT of grass!