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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2009
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    Question Calculating in bulk hay purchases per horse

    I am trying to crunch some numbers and would love some feedback.

    Horses: 2 out 24/7, one semi-retired Appendix, one eventing OTTB with enormous metabolism. Grass available during spring/summer/fall, overseed w/ rye in winter. Mild climate.

    I'd like to buy the hay a year at a time. We generally need to feed hay every day in winter (Nov-Feb ish).

    I know when I travel for training/shows, big horse eats a TIGHTLY packed heavy timothy bale in 2-3 days by himself. In the winter, the two will eat a bale of fescue in their shed in about 24 hours ish, but are currently on VERY little grass (hopefully will be moving home in fall)

    Maybe I know what I need to know already, but would really like to hear other people's averages for a year's order so I can look into costs. Again, they are not stalled unless injury requires (please heavens no) and pastures are rotated and maintained.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by wildlifer; Apr. 8, 2013 at 10:39 AM. Reason: spelling



  2. #2
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    Jul. 14, 2000
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    It is an art form isn't it, to determine how much hay to buy!

    I start with a half a bale of hay per day per horse year round 180 total; one bale of hay is 4 feedings for a horse, 15 bales is one month of hay per horse.

    I have a small place and the grass paddocks are used for controlled daytime turnout from April to October. In last years drought the paddocks were toast by July and not used. Otherwise the horse live in a very large sacrifice area with hay given twice daily. The "art" part comes in next because the bales are big and I sometimes I can get four+ feedings for one horse from one bale- this is especially true when the paddocks are good so I'll knock it down to 150 bales per horse per year.

    Bottom line 150 bales per horse for year round hay. I'll tack on another 20 bales on my order which gives me wiggle room for extra hay for my two horses. My horses are small and easy keepers.

    *A mega "whoops" on my part which others have correctly piped in with- bale weight and percent of horses body weight. I've been using the same hay guy for 10 years so the bale weight doesn't change/isn't random. The bales are 60# plus in weight.
    Last edited by SLW; Apr. 8, 2013 at 03:12 PM.


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  3. #3
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    Feb. 9, 2005
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    Upper Midwest
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    I will be watching this with interest. I contacted a hay supplier about small bales (grass alfalfa mix) for when they cut this summer. She estimated 450 bales is what I would need for two horses turned out 24x7. I have grass from May-Aug or Sept., but their paddock is just over an acre and would supplement with hay.

    I thought 450 average sized small square bales seemed really high...
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  4. #4
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    Jun. 23, 2010
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    Connecticut
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    I've just recently started in a rough board situation, but based on my past observations and my hay use so far, I'm planning one half a bale per day per horse. Our horses have no grass turnout, and they're actually large ponies, so smaller than the average horse. I'm estimating 200 bales/horse/year, to add in a little extra for the inevitable spoilage, spillage or stall rest needs.



  5. #5
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    Jan. 21, 2010
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    When I started, I calculated exact values, overestimating a bit to cover my behind in case of a hay shortage and to compensate that straight coastal bermuda hay is the only thing available here. If it were timothy or alfalfa mix, I wouldn't overestimate so much. 2-3% bodyweight in feed per horse per day, I went with 3% to pad it. So, my 1300lb TB would get 39lbs/day. I decrease that a bit because he's not necessarily a hard keeper, and some of that weight is in grain and soaked store-bought hay cubes, and some is pasture turnout. My calculations for my three horses based on their weight worked out to just under 2 bales/day if they were to get only hay. Assuming 50lb bales (and that is never accurate!), 60 bales/month or or 1.5 tons if your hay dealer sells it by weight.

    I overestimated, but as I said, I'd rather overestimate than get stuck with nothing. I order as much as I can fit.


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  6. #6
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    Oct. 5, 2009
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    Where the blacktop ends-Maryland
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    I just had to do this for the first time this past Fall, nice to have a place to store hay instead of buying it "as needed" for sure. I went with the standard 2% of body weight per horse to start, I have two a QH and a Clyde. Knowing that November until April 1st they eat nothing but hay and factoring in cold so I would give them more than 2%, figured I needed about 80 pounds per day for 5 months, once April comes around I should have been able to put them out on grass, but Mother nature had other plans and it has just started to warm up around here this past weekend so they are still on all hay. Once they do go out, next week PLEASE, they will then only get supplemental hay at night in their stalls so hay consumption goes way down and a bale will last about 3 days, so again 1 bale every three days for April - October. Now that is if we don't have a drought. You will need to know average weight of a bale from your supplier in order to do the math. Then buy some extra for padding, maybe 10-20 bales. I occasionally do "inventory" to make sure usage is on track so I know when I may need to buy some extra.
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  7. #7
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    Mar. 28, 2002
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    Work it in pounds as already suggested and don't buy by the bale but by the ton - not all bales are created equal, even with the same baler and on the same piece of land. When I used to do my own, I tried for 55 pounds but dammit, just changes in ground speed to account for terrain, lighter or heavier swaths, and slightly different grass mix would make bales run from 40 to 70 pounds. IF you buy on a per bale basis, you can get royally ripped off, so by the ton is the best way as the load is weighed rather than counted.
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  8. #8
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    Feb. 14, 2003
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    Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
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    I'm feeding two geldings hay all year round, less from May to September (limited pasture) but all their forage the remaining months. I buy "big bales" weighing 120lbs. on average, but I always buy by the ton. 5 tons of hay (this is an orchard/alfalfa mix) covers an entire year, feeding 20lbs. per horse (roughly, I haven't weighed it out for a few months) per day. Regardless of size of horse/type of eater, this ratio has stood me in good stead for 11 years. I feed twice a day, hay outside in AM and inside in PM. I am now supplementing my aged TB with alfalfa, and purchased 1/2 ton of 3rd cut back in July of 2012 and am on my last bale.
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  9. #9
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    Apr. 28, 2008
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    Don't use my method. I buy by the year and am such a chronic overestimator I'm pretty sure I will have 200+ extra bales this year. I am buying less this year, but only 100 fewer bales. Why? I don't know, I just don't feel comfortable coming "close" which to my warped mind seems to mean "loft is less than half full." My name is fordtraktor and I hoard hay.....

    The good thing about hay is that it lasts for several years without significant nutrient loss, so I just make sure I feed out all the previous year's overpurchase before I start on the new hay.

    There is no real "buying hay by the ton" around here from your average hay guy -- that is a regional thing. Seems like out west it goes by the ton, in the midwest and much of the East by the bale. You can get it by the ton at a feed store but there is a significant markup -- I prefer buying from a trusted farmer and cut out the middleman.

    FWIW, I have 4 horses and feed free choice year-round. I also have 10 acres of grass so they rarely eat much hay during the summer -- but on rainy days they like to park themselves under the horse porch with hay, so they can stay dry.


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  10. #10
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    Apr. 28, 2008
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    BTW, TrotTrotPumpkin, I think 450 squares sounds really high for 2 horses unless they are really small squares. I seem to feed about 400 average 50-60 lb. bales for 4 horses a year free choice, with my grass reducing intake in from spring to late fall (though I feed in NibbleNets/Cinchchix nets so my waste is minimal). I wouldn't say my grass is out yet but there's a faint tinge of green and they are already eating less hay as they nibble the sprouts in my winter pasture. They are all fat.

    Dec. to March they eat at least 2 bales a day, sometimes 3. The rest of the year considerably less, sometimes basically none.



  11. #11
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    Dec. 13, 1999
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    Greensboro, NC
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    Yep, go by weight, not bales. 3% of body weight a day should be enough for most horses plus a little extra, but you could use that number, add maybe 10% more to account for a really cold spell, or some moldy hay, or some other loss. It's always nice to have some hay left over this time of year in case you 1) need it for stall rest or something, or 2) cuttings are delayed or reduced and you can't quite get enough for the next year.

    I go through roughly 1000lb (large round bale) for 4 horses, each week. They range from about 1100lb (growing 2yo) to well over 1300lb, total body weight about 5000lb. That puts me averaging about 35lb/horse/day, with some eating a bit more, some eating a bit less.
    ______________________________
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by fordtraktor View Post
    Don't use my method. I buy by the year and am such a chronic overestimator I'm pretty sure I will have 200+ extra bales this year. I am buying less this year, but only 100 fewer bales. Why? I don't know, I just don't feel comfortable coming "close" which to my warped mind seems to mean "loft is less than half full." My name is fordtraktor and I hoard hay.....
    Thanks, now I have to clean spit off my desk! I have a distinct feeling my OCD planny-ness (oh, it's a word now) may predispose me to hay hoarder syndrome!

    This is GREAT, thanks so much. I see a rough pattern here, so gives me at least a number to start with! My current BO always gets good hay, so I'll have to chat with him too -- he is feeding about 80 horses though, so a load comes about every other week--one truck of rectangular bales for the barn and one of round bales for the field! 0.0

    My big TB gets a bunch of feed too -- due to his chinchilla metabolism, plus being in heavy work in eventing training, the Appendix only gets a bit since he's not working much these days.

    JB, my almost neighbour, haha (I live just up 85, right N of Raleigh), do you get your hay from a private supplier or is there a larger scale producer you use? I believe ours now come from VA since Granville County touches the border.

    Keep it coming, this is super helpful!!



  13. #13
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    Sep. 13, 2002
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    Pacific Northwest
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    I buy based on weight as well. Even if you buy by the bale, as many of you seem to, you can still get a decent estimate of weight, I'll bet. When I buy the small local bales here, I can pretty much guess at the weight by handling a few bales or the seller might know (although most here seem to overestimate, I have discovered). Since I weigh out what I feed, I can figure out what I'm feeding per day in winter and use that to calculate what I need for the year (I cut back in summer with pasture available, but if I use my "winter" number, that gives me some cushion for loss or waste).

    For me, I'm limited on what I can store, so it is a balancing act that I haven't totally perfected. And since we put in an arena and my horses are getting some work now, that has changed the requirements, so having to adjust to that. My 3 are getting 17 to 21 lbs. each daily right now, or <60 lbs. total daily. That's going to be around 11 tons for a year. Since I will feed less in summer with pasture (not much less as one horse is IR so no grass for him, and the others share a fairly small pasture area) and might feed more when cold in winter, that's a pretty safe figure for the high end of what I will need. I can probably get 10 tons for the year and be all right...long as I don't get a bad batch like this winter when I discovered a huge chunk of it molded.

    Anyway, that's kind of my process. YMMV.



  14. #14
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    Dec. 13, 1999
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildlifer View Post
    JB, my almost neighbour, haha (I live just up 85, right N of Raleigh), do you get your hay from a private supplier or is there a larger scale producer you use? I believe ours now come from VA since Granville County touches the border.
    *waives* Hi almost-neighbor! LOL

    I get mine from a private farmer. I have 2 sources, actually - my original and longer-term guy who is literally just 1 mile down the road, and another I've had to use the last 2 Winters who is 4 miles down the road. The 2nd guy is who has the 1000lb bales. The 1st guy, who I really hope to get back to this year, has 600-700lb bales, usually. Pros and cons of both guys.

    Since you currently have this particular source, you should talk to him about supplying your hay, or perhaps ask your current barn if you can buy off them maybe. If you buy all your hay at once, the current barn's supplier might not have a problem delivering to you

    It's hard in this area to find farmers who sell by the ton, unfortunately. Even the bigger suppliers around here sell by the bale. Square bales seem to be more variable in weight than rounds, but you can still get what you need, though for sure you could end up paying more per pound because of it. I'd personally figure on an extra 20% if you're having to rely on small squares.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  15. #15
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    Thanks, horsepoor, I'd have to measure out the storage area to see how much I could store, good point.

    JB, that's definitely part of the plan -- I'm about 15 minutes down the road, so maybe could get in on the deal! I guess it depends on how many trucks they have, he buys so much!



  16. #16
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    Feb. 25, 2012
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    Montana
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    Well, not great at math either! I buy all my hay at once in July. I buy the lovely montana grass hay by the ton, the smaller square bales. So, depending on the year, I put up 17-20 tons which is usually fine for my three horses. I think they get on average 30lbs a day, but more if its really cold. They are fed hay all year round and two get additional supplements. I hate running short and hvaing to buy by the bale. I have a regular hay guy (seven years) and for sure that relationship is like gold. Last year had it delivered and stacked and that is what I will do from hereon out - other wise Mr. LT and I stack it out of the field, haul it home,t hen stack it again. Not so fun and, as he says, brings out Mr. LT's character defects!



  17. #17
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    Jan. 27, 2004
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    We normally have pretty good grass from Easter to Thanksgiving though, like fordtracktor's, my guys like to hang out inside when it's too hot/buggy/rainy/sunny/whatever and nibble a little hay during grass season.

    I figure 40#/day/horse for 6 months (roughly 3.5-4 tons each). That's not enough when we have drought (like last year) and is a bit too much when we have a great forage season. But, I have room to store and feed out the leftovers the following summer/fall, and an empty loft makes me really nervous.

    It's hard to buy hay here by weight, so I estimate and then buy a few extra tons. And then maybe a bit more because second cutting is lovely and I have an extra corner... A hay hoarding problem--I haz it.
    ---------------------------



  18. #18
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    Nov. 20, 2008
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    I have a section on my website that deals with hay storage and calculating hay consumption/storage per horse. I weigh my hay but buy by the bale because that's how it's sold up here. You have to scroll down a little to get to the hay consumption part-it's right below the pictures of the small mesh haynets.

    http://thepitchforkchronicles.com/page2.php



  19. #19
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    Feb. 25, 2012
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    thanks for the infomation!!! Wow...40 lb bales!! Those are true ladies bales!! Ours are easily 65-70 lbs. We tarp ours and so far (7 years here) so good. Still looks good 8-9 mos later (we use pallets). I should measure the space but whatever it is its where the delivery guy dumped it! But you are right; people have to think about space, proximity, storage and ease of feeding. As much as I bitch about the hauling and stacking every year, I would rather that than have to do little bits every month. Back east, we get 3-4 months worth at a shot but then back to stacking and hauling!



  20. #20
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    It's funny- no one that sells hay ever admits to the bales being 40 pounds-they always tell you they are 50 pound bales!! Like sk pacer says, it is really rare to get the bales to all be the same weight. I figure a 40 pound bale is the average-some are a lot more, some are less.

    When we get the deliveries, we are responsible for stacking the hay after it is unloaded from the tractor trailer. Since my husband doesn't like the horses anyway, I give him the easy job of driving the bales from the back of the truck to the storage shed. I'm glad they are ladies size bales because I have to put them away in the shed!!

    It's scary how much broader my shoulders have become in the last 5 years.....



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