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How healthy is it for a horse to go 8-9 hours a day without forage

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  • How healthy is it for a horse to go 8-9 hours a day without forage

    I bored my horse at a relatives house and they have just one horse,an easy keeper quarter horse and mines a thoroughbred. In the winter the horses are out during the day for 8-9 hours and there is no grass out there this time of year and the owners of the other horse doesnt put hay out for the horse during the day. They only get fed in the evening and morning, my horse has access to free choice hay all night in the stall but the other horse just gets two to three small flakes of hay and a scoop of grain and some how he stays at a good weight. How healthy is it for there stomachs to go that long without forage

  • #2
    You don't say, but unless these horses are turned out in a dry lot where no grass ever grows, there is something for grazing even now. Grass may be dormant, but it is still present.
    My horses sometimes go that long or more w/o me feeding hay if I am delayed getting home to feed.
    Example: I feed at 7A, leave home & don't get back until near 5.
    They paw through the snow & manage to find what grass is left in my pastures.

    Can you supply hay to be fed to your horse in turnout?
    If he is not in a pasture by himself then accept that any horse(s) out with him will share that hay.
    As long as he is keeping weight on no reason to worry.
    If he is losing wight then you need to make other arrangements so he gets hay in turnout.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      I can't afford to feed the other horse to so I just dont put hay out, my horse is at a pretty good weight but could use a little bit more, I just worry about my horse developing ulcers from an empty stomach

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
        As long as he is keeping weight on no reason to worry.
        This is not entirely true. Horses are NOT designed to go long periods without eating. Some horses do better than others on a limited feeding schedule, but even a horse in good weight can have ulcers due to long periods without forage, or be at a higher risk for colic, especially in extreme weather, because their system is not being "topped up" regularly and kept moving. In the extreme cold temps a lot of the US and Canada is currently experiencing, a constant supply of forage is the best way to keep a horse warm. Their guts are constantly working to digest and this produces heat.

        It depends on the individual horse, a bit--some on this type of schedule, where they are given hay and will go long periods without, gorge themselves as soon as the hay is given and as a result go a REALLY long time without food. Others that pick through it or take breaks will have something to munch on longer.

        The most ideal feeding system to me is "controlled" free choice. IE hay or other forage is always offered outside, in a slow feed net. Same with inside. It stops the horse from gorging, but makes the hay offered last for longer periods if a human cannot be around all day to throw a flake every couple of hours. In less extreme weather, like the spring and summer, turning horses out on sparse pasture is fine as grazing keeps them busy and they have less caloric requirements in warm weather. There are obviously horses with medical conditions that make dry lot or restricted diets essential, but those should be managed with the input of a vet. To me, access to some kind of forage and clean, unfrozen water 24/7 (or as close to this as possible) is essential to keeping your horse healthy. Even horses that are overweight should have access to forage as much as possible--it can be poor quality forage to supply them with less calories, but still give them the activity of grazing.



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        • #5
          Originally posted by Princess Sparkles View Post

          This is not entirely true. Horses are NOT designed to go long periods without eating.
          This was covered in 2DogsFarm post. Unless the horse is turned out in an area that grows absolutely nothing then the horse is not actually going for long periods without eating. Foraging and not getting lots of calories because of the work involved with foraging is not the same as standing around getting absolutely nothing.

          Comment


          • #6
            It's also true that there is a tough choice between going with the current "best practice" of free choice hay 24/7, and keeping the weight of the air ferns within reasonable limits. My easy keeper Paint mare is on about 15 lbs of hay in 5 feedings a day, and she is always on the plumper side. If I gave her hay in slow feed nets she would worry it all out within half an hour and stand around with no food anyhow.

            I have decided for her, the eventual problems of obesity and IR and founder are more dangerous than restricting her feed somewhat.

            She is 16 hands, muscular, tapes at about 1275 lbs, is at least a 6 Henneke Body Score, and stays that way on 15 lbs of hay and a small beet pulp mash to carry her supplements.

            I say this, because the relative of the OP is probably regulating feed to keep his easy keeper QH from blimping out.

            Comment


            • #7
              It's not ideal for them to go that many hours without hay. However, as the owner of a couple really "easy keepers", I can tell you that my horses regularly go that long without hay, even though I spread out feeds and use small-hole hay nets.

              Only when we start flirting with the -30C mark, do I allow them 24/7 access to hay.

              Also, I agree with the posters above who mention that a bit of grazing still counts as food. Mine are standing on about 3 feet of hard snowpack so there is no grazing.
              Jigga:
              Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

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              • #8
                I think that 2x daily feedings is sort of normal at barns in SoCal, coinciding with barn help work schedule... so 7 am and 5pm roughly. Most would like the horses to have a lunch, but not all barns offer it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I wouldn't do it. Right now the horse is "at a good weight but could use a little more." So, not really at a good weight. And yes, more prone to ulcers and possibly colic. By "two feedings" I assume you main grain 2x a day and hay only at night?

                  How long has the horse been on this feeding schedule?

                  My TB mare would definitely lose weight from October - June if I left her on the pasture with no hay. Because, there really isn't enough grass to eat after grazing all summer. (And, then they would have even less next year).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Personally I would use a slow feeder. I just bought a slow grazer Which holds 3/4 of bail.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It's not a matter of "some horses can handle it" or "sometimes you have no other choice."

                      Horses are not meant to go 8-9 hours without forage period. It's never better than the alternative of having access to forage on more frequent intervals. Sometimes human-created logistics make it unavoidable, but it is never a good option.

                      Best case scenario, you are lucky and your horse tolerates it without developing major issue. More often than not, a horse doesn't have a problem until he does.

                      There are many well-respected horsemen and women on this forum who call bullocks on the idea of horses needing regular access to forage. And when you've been around here as long as I have (this was not my first screen name), you realize those same well-respected individuals have quite the of number of tales of woe with their horses that could have been prevented with more frequent forage.

                      OP, having owned TBs most of my life, I tend to find problems always manifest after extended periods in situations like you are describing. Many time the problems from it self-correct when the grass begins to grow, making it temporary enough to not cause lasting issues.
                      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Know the opportunity to keep your horse with a friend or relative is great but....don't think your relative is going to change how they feed their easy keeping QH or redo their fencing to separate the horses so your feed goes to your horse only. Perhaps a boarding barn that can feed more often is a healthier option for the horse here.
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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                        • #13
                          There was an article a few years from the MARE center which showed that, unless you reduced the grazing time to LESS THAN 4 HOURS, reducing the turnout time, reducing the "turnout time" did NOT reduce the grass consumption.

                          Same principle applies to access to hay.

                          Janet

                          chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Long periods without forage are not a good thing but neither are they an automatic death sentence for the horse. If that were true then the horse would likely never have evolved as there are times the short grass steppe is buried in snow and horses don't get much for their efforts in clearing the snow before they eat. We'd also have no feral horses, who sometime do go long periods without forage on some of the more arid Western ranges. For those of you who watched the PBS program remember that you're seeing the range there in summer. What do you think it looks like in winter?

                            Feed to need. It's my opinion that horses do NOT need forage in front of them at all times. Unless the horse is in work that just means you're creating a fat horse. Maybe 8 hours is more than I'd be comfortable with but if it goes that long I'm not a "horse killer."

                            G.



                            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The issue is that while it's totally ok for a horse not to have forage 24/7 it's not great to go longer than a couple of hours. If you watch horses grazing in the field, they generally don't eat constantly, they stop and start a lot so their stomachs aren't ever completely empty. I have easy keeper TBs who do fine calorie-wise in winter with minimal grain and good hay once a day, but even though the grass is not giving them much nutrition they still graze off and on all day which keeps something in their stomachs and gives them something to do. If they didn't have access to that they would need more frequent feedings of low calorie hay.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                It's not healthy for them to go that long without forage. Just because they're surviving it doesn't mean it's a good thing to do. I'd move my horse or separate the two if the other owners flat out refuse to feed out in the field.
                                Wouldst thou like the taste of butter and pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Callie1993 View Post
                                  I can't afford to feed the other horse to so I just don't put hay out, my horse is at a pretty good weight but could use a little bit more, I just worry about my horse developing ulcers from an empty stomach
                                  It was a common practice when I boarded ( 15 yrs) for barns in CA to feed hay AM/ PM. Horses were stalled with paddocks and when the hay was gone they didn't have anything until fed again. Never had a horse with ulcers myself and we didn't have any that I know of at the barn which had 60+ boarders.

                                  I 've kept a variety of horses at home for the last 27 years. I feed AM/PM hay and in several places I've lived the horses had dry lots so no pasture and I never had a horse with ulcers then either.

                                  If a continually full stomach kept horses from having ulcers you sure don't prove that on this forum.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by candyappy View Post

                                    It was a common practice when I boarded ( 15 yrs) for barns in CA to feed hay AM/ PM. Horses were stalled with paddocks and when the hay was gone they didn't have anything until fed again. Never had a horse with ulcers myself and we didn't have any that I know of at the barn which had 60+ boarders.

                                    I 've kept a variety of horses at home for the last 27 years. I feed AM/PM hay and in several places I've lived the horses had dry lots so no pasture and I never had a horse with ulcers then either.

                                    If a continually full stomach kept horses from having ulcers you sure don't prove that on this forum.
                                    But it sounds like the OP is describing: AM nothing, PM hay. Im assuming "fed AM and PM" means grain since the amount of hay was only described for PM.

                                    Thats very different. From the time the hay is finished until the next night....there is no forage given except what is left in the field.

                                    Or....i am mistaken. OP can you clarify how much hay and when?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by S1969 View Post

                                      But it sounds like the OP is describing: AM nothing, PM hay. Im assuming "fed AM and PM" means grain since the amount of hay was only described for PM.

                                      Thats very different. From the time the hay is finished until the next night....there is no forage given except what is left in the field.

                                      Or....i am mistaken. OP can you clarify how much hay and when?
                                      She said they get fed at night and in the morning, and said they are going without hay 8-9 hours. Not ideal but not really problematic. If you are feeding 2x day, 12 hours apart, they could be eating for 3-4 hours, then have nothing for 8-9 hours.
                                      Jigga:
                                      Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by saultgirl View Post

                                        She said they get fed at night and in the morning, and said they are going without hay 8-9 hours. Not ideal but not really problematic. If you are feeding 2x day, 12 hours apart, they could be eating for 3-4 hours, then have nothing for 8-9 hours.
                                        Well, I agree that might be what she is saying. But it says:

                                        They only get fed in the evening and morning, my horse has access to free choice hay all night in the stall but the other horse just gets two to three small flakes of hay and a scoop of grain and some how he stays at a good weight.
                                        No mention of what hay is fed in the AM which makes me wonder if it is any hay, or a grain feeding and then turned out?

                                        If hay AM and PM, and then turnout without hay...I would be much more forgiving than free choice hay all night in the stall, and no hay after that. That's why I asked for clarification.

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