I have two horses who live out 24/7-a 23 year old with not the greatest teeth (just had two pulled and dentist commented he has teeth of a 30 year old) and a 14 yr old. Both are in good weight (on the heavy side). The older gets 2 quarts of Senior 2X/day and the younger gets 1 quart of a high fat/low protein textured grain 2X/day. Only supplement is flax seed. I feed a 2nd cut timothy/grass mix and would love to keep hay in front of them 24/7 since they live out, but due to hay shortages and the fact both these guys seem to only want maybe 5 flakes over night (I give 3 flakes at dinner, and another 3 at night check and there's still some hay left in their shed in the AM), I was curious if timothy/alfalfa cubes would help. How much do you feed? Soaked? I've tried dengie, and the old guy would only eat maybe 1/2 bucket over night. Would cubes help for burning energy to stay warm? I would still give them the same amount of hay, just wondering if I could give them more.
You could certainly try it and see what happens. But, they may not NEED it, especially since they are in good weight and you are feeding enough hay? However, it might be a good option for the older horse.
I soak my hay cubes. A good way to keep them in front of the horses is to do a heated mucktub. hay cubes are just hay. I don't think there's any harm in feeding as much as they want- some toothless horses survive on them with no regular hay.
I feed my hard keeper soaked timothy/alf. cubes. I give him 1 to 1.5 pounds (weighed before soaking) at lunch - I soak them in a 6 quart tupperware - I fill the water to about 2/3 high and I use hot water because I typically get it ready only a few hours before feeding. In his stall bucket, I mix it with TC senior and RB pellets. It's nice and warm and he LOVES it and I feel good knowing he is getting a good amount of water from the soaked cubes. It takes him 20 minutes to 1/2 hour to eat the above (cubes, 3-4 pounds TC senior, 1 pound RB)
The BM also gives him about 1 scoop (maybe 1 pound?) a.m. and p.m., also soaked, with his feed. The BM soaks for several hours. My horse is holding his weight beautifully (may even be gaining!) He only eats a tiny bit of his night flake of hay because of his teeth. He is stalled at night, and out during the day with access to a round bale, but he really doesn't touch it. He just grazes on whatever he can find on the ground. In the spring he blooms from the grass which he can eat just fine.
You could try just a little and see how your horses do. I have experienced no hotness or behaviour issues from the alfalfa in the cubes. I tried straight alf. pellets but they gave my horse the runs.
I was going to try denghi but decided not to since this works so well. We use the TC "Premium Forage Cubes" which are timothy/alfalfa.
I'm not so much worried about weight or them getting "hot" as much as I want to be sure I am giving enough to maintain warmth through the winter. The older guy doesn't eat as much hay as any of the horses here, but he has been on Senior feed for about a year and is quite plump. This is his 1st winter out 24/7-used to come in at night until last spring. They do have a big shed that they share so they have plenty of shelter w/water at all times, once they eat their grain, both prefer to be out in the pasture. I'm probably overthinking something that doesn't need any attention, but figured it was something to look into!
I agree; if they're already on the heavy side of normal I wouldn't add more food. Also, cubes are often large and very hard, so I would be concerned feeding them to horses with dental problems because they might not be able to chew them properly.
If you feel they're not warm enough I'd just put on a thicker blanket or a second layer.
If I went with cubes, I would soak them for the old man! They will wear a blanket once the temps dip down into the teens and lower. They both seem very happy and look fine. I think I'm "humanizing" them by worrying if they are getting enough! I was just curious if anyone supplements with the cubes for the sole reason of more energy to burn to stay warm. I worked for someone years back who would add corn to the diet of those who lived out, and she now uses hay cubes as well, so I was wondering if there was enough to that that I should take the same route.
Is it possible that the horse with dental problems can't chew hay well, which is why some is left in the AM? Soaked tim/alf cubes are very good for older horses. You may also want to try the Hay Stretcher pellets, which get mushy in water much faster than the cubes. IME, to get the cubes really mushy they have to be soaked for at least half an hour.
When I used to live in a very cold climate, my horses did great on cubes during the winter. I have an ancient little old Arab who is missing quite a few teeth and also had a history of choke, so I always poured a LOT of warm water (not hot because that seemed to almost "cook" them) on the cubes right before feeding. All the horses (very hard keepers!) stayed in very good flesh through snow, constantly high winds, and temperatures routinely way below freezing. They lived turned out 24/7 with run-in sheds and wore only light blankets. No one ever had any trouble from dental or choking issues. The water also helped keep them hydrated.
I feed a 5 gallon bucket of soaked timothy cibes every night. But my basic reason is to keep them as hydrated as possible. One isn't the world's best drinker so I can get an extra 4 gallons of water per day in him that way. I put a 2 quart scoop in a 5 gallon bucket for each horse and then fill to the top with water. In winter this takes 3-4 hours of soaking unless I use hot water, then the cubes absorb that in about 20 minutes. I also throw in a handful of dengi too, makes a soup that they both love. In winter I do bring two gallons of hot water to the barn with me for night check and the cube buckets are only filled with 3 gallons cold water to start soaking at 4 pm and then I add 1 gallon hot water to each bucket before feeding at 8 pm. The 2 quart scoop is equal to about a flake of hay.
It probably digests faster than stem hay so I don't know how much extra heat they get out of it. But they do love it.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
If the horses are leaving hay and start losing weight, then adding soaked hay cubes will be a good path to take. Because it will be easier for them to eat and digest AND, it will get more liquid into their system.
Do the horses have warm water to drink? That is a critical part of the diet. Without it, it's hard for them to digest what they do eat and many times, horses will stop eating when they know they are lacking fluids.
Is it possible that the horse with dental problems can't chew hay well, which is why some is left in the AM?
This guy has been in my family since he was 6 years old and he's always been a light hay eater. I used to soak his hay, but he prefers it not soaked. However, I did notice he had a harder time with straight timothy-not only did he not eat a lot of it, he would leave some chewed up balls. So, I switched him to Senior feed and added dengie. The next shipping, got more of a grassy mix, and he has had no more issues. The only dental issue he has is gum disease, but now that the two problem teeth were removed, he's much happier. Even during the bad teeth times, I've always been able to keep weight on him easily.
Originally Posted by gabz
Do the horses have warm water to drink?
Yes. Warm water at all times. The horses are in my backyard so I frequently check on the water.
My dearly departed horse Alibar thrived on soaked hay cubes for almost 10 years. He had very poor teeth and went through a series of impaction colics in his late teens.
I always did a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part cubes. Hot in the winter and cold in the summer. It took longer for them to fully expand in cold water.
Morning and night, we fed a mini feed bucket of cubes, plus 2 buckets of water. For lunch, we fed him a mini feed bucket of Dengie. It took a while for him to eat his Dengie. He was fed senior feed AM and PM.
I would feed hay cubes over dengie.
If you get good hay cubes they don't take that long to soak through. A lot of them have clay (!?!) in them. Triple Crown cubes don't. If I put a handful in hot water they're soaked in 10 minutes.