Since I moved to my new farmette 2 years ago, I've spent countless hours reclaiming, rehabilitating and babying my pastures. (Next project-- rehabilitate my much-abused drylot.) Now that I'm really starting to get some good grass, and the horses will be going out on it much more frequently, I've been thinking about dropping to just one feeding a day since their grain intake will decline. It declined last summer too, even though they weren't out near as much as they will be this year.
So, my question is: What is the best way to drop a feeding? Wean them gradually with smaller meals or just go cold turkey? Does it matter which meal gets dropped; morning or evening? (truthfully, I'd prefer to drop mornings) Thanks in advance!
If you aren't feeding much concentrate-wise (5 lbs or less per day for a 1200 lb horse), and the horses have free-access to forage, one feeding is fine and it doesn't matter which you drop. To me the bigger deal is making sure that there is still someone out there looking at them multiple times a day, checking water, etc, even if they aren't getting fed. (That's one of the main reasons I don't like auto feeders).
As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.
I would drop the feeding that is less convenient to me. I would do it cold turkey, but my horses don't get much in grain or wet beet pulp feeding anyway. We will be going from PM grain feeding to AM pretty quick, as we change from daylight turnout to night turnout.
I want my horses to be adaptable, not worried if things are not exact or precisely done the same EVERY time. They like coming in, because there is ALWAYS something to eat, though it might only be carrot pieces this time. But they don't come up (day or night) until they see us getting stuff around or we call them up, with some reward food. 8A is NOT the moment they will be fed, and 8P might not be when they get turned out. Horses are HAPPY to see me, go out or get fed when it is convenient for us. No ulcers or other kinds of issues with their health either.
We graze ours and they sure do look nice with that to eat. We also lower the the "extras" fed in the warm season.
Nice to hear your pastures are improving. Such a good reward to see after your hard work on them. Ours finally turned GREEN last Tuesday, though there isn't much growth yet. Too wet to let horses on them, so they are keeping the fencelines trimmed closely!
Every horse who has come to my farm has come from a 2 per day feeding and we feed concentrates in the evening but hay/pasture all day. I don't change things right away since they are getting used to a new place, but once settled in (a week to 10 days) I just drop the AM feeding. They really don't notice as long as you have something they can eat.
I appreciate this thread. Thanks for asking the question. I've been thinking about the same thing. Ours get 1 cup...standard kitchen measuring cup...twice a day. They are all over weight...too much pasture. They get their supplements at the evening feeding so I think I'll compress the 2 feedings into that one. They are in for the night so it won't matter how long it takes for them to dine.
Haha, my herd would beg to differ! I could set a watch by some of them. Especially the ponies. Ponies know these things!
Honestly I'd say it depends on how much you're feeding in concentrates, but if you're feeding at/below the level of traditional grain that I would be comfortable feeding only once a day, it's not providing the appropriate nutrition anyway.
Most of my kids are in a similar situation to yours, in that they tend to get fat on the grass in the summer (even the hardkeepers, really says a lot about your pasture care ). I have almost everyone on a ration balancer (or vitamin supp for the super fatties) and supplement with an additional calorie source that I can adjust without adjusting the level of vitamins etc they're also receiving. When they start going out on the grass they get less calories from beet pulp/rice bran/etc.
If they're mentally okay with only being fed once a day and are receiving adequate nutrition from the amount you're feeding, and that amount is not so large that it might cause them to get sick then go for it, and drop whichever feeding is more convient for you. As long as they're pacified by the pasture grazing, and their digestive systems are being exercised enough to handle the concentrates- SLEEP IN
"Sit back and prepare to be pissed off!"
Eventer, Ballerina, Dancer, Model, and Waitress Extraordinaire (cos a girls gotta eat!).
Don't overthink it. Drop the feeding that you want to drop, make sure they have some hay, and carry on. Mine go smoothly between once-daily feedings at my place and twice-daily feedings where I board and when we're at shows with no hard feelings or drama of any sort. None of them GETS very much grain anyway, and as long as they don't see someone ELSE getting fed while they are not, they don't care.
Thanks everyone. I do make adjustments to their feed to make sure everyone gets their vit/min. One mare is already on a ration balancer year-round, and the others have been on and off it as their needs have changed. So, even just moving to one feeding a day isn't going to make it too big of a meal or make them miss any nutrition.
I guess I'm just dreading more the looks of pleading "I'm starving, mom!" and/or the stink eye "feed me, damnit!" at first. My old broodie is most opinionated on when she thinks it's time to eat, so she's not gonna be a happy camper at first. Thanks again!