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Floridians - is feeding T&A worth the $$$?

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  • Floridians - is feeding T&A worth the $$$?

    Hi all,

    Avid lurker, first time poster, hoping to get some opinions. Does it make sense to continue feeding T&A in this situation?


    Relocated to Florida for work last year and purchased a wonderful little farm with 10 acres of high and dry property + 4 stall barn and a house. I brought my two horses home late last summer. I have a 12 y/o mare ridden 3-4x week (light to moderate work) and a 15 year old gelding that is pretty much a husband / guest horse (very light work).

    They live out 24/7 on 7 acres of Bahia grass pasture with shelter and shade.

    Both horses are fed 2.5lbs Purina Strategy twice a day and ~15lbs of T&A spread between three feedings. Both horses are in good weight, despite gelding being a bit of a hard keeper in the past

    With T&A at $14+ per bale in Florida, I’ve been wondering if this is a necessary expense at this point. The pastures are in great shape with plenty of grass. At what point can the horses be managed on pasture alone, without additional hay? Or, with a less expensive hay (coastal/tifton)? I’ve been afraid to feed coastal due to the risk of colic and generally hesitant to change up their routine since both have been doing great here so far.

    Their health and well-being are most important, but I’m trying to be cost-effective with horse keeping expenses wherever possible

  • #2
    During the summer you might not need any hay if you have lush pasture. Right now my old horse (with poor teeth) gets unlimited pasture and is maintaining her weight well. She gets a handful of feed with a vitamin/mineral supplement. Last year the grass grew faster than the horses could graze it.

    I feed regular coastal. Everyone does well on it. Peanut hay is cheaper than alfalfa - $10 a bale- if you can find it. You want perennial peanut, not peanut vine hay. I buy peanut hay during the winter.


    • #3
      When I had my two TBs they lived out 24/7 with a 4-acre pasture and access to shelter. I only fed hay from early November to early April - depended on how much snow we got as I'm in NH. They'd start grazing the minute any pasture was visible - they didn't care for any hay at all and maintained their weight just fine.

      I personally wouldn't feed any hay if you have good pasture that can sustain them and fields that won't get trashed or overgrazed. Of course all depends on if they can handle that much grass and don't have any metabolic issues (one of my TBs now has to be on a drylot and it sucks and the other one was euthanized due to old age).

      And at $14+ a bale I'd be going the pasture route instead!
      "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England


      • #4
        What about just a flake of straight alfalfa each per day? The bahia grass can get pretty low in nutrition as the summer goes on.
        Driving around horse country, you can often pick out the horses who are just eating pasture. Their top lines start to get pretty saggy looking.


        • #5
          I live in Ocala and have great pastures. Horses live out 24/7 unless extreme weather threatens. During the summer, for roughage, I only feed a few soaked T/A cubes, which gives more water also, and I include a bit of Timothy pellets in their minimal feed ration. I DO buy hay in the winter, usually T/A or Orchard/A, but also buy a 1/2 compressed pasture bale and have it under the run in for them. It runs around 500#, and they eat it over the course of about 10 days-two weeks (two horses have access). THis has saved my pastures from being overgrazed in the winter. All year I have a bale or six on hand for times when they need to be stalled for any longer than an hour or two. NEVER coastal - it is implicated in far too many colics for me.

          I would add that last winter was very mild - I never completely lost my green pasture grass - not typical. We didn't have a good frost at all. In other words, don't use last winter as a basis for judging your pasture health in a typical winter.....

          The compressed bales come from Larsen hay; I don't think anyone else has the half size.


          • #6
            We give one flake of alfalfa per day per horse, as well as a pound of balancer pellets (McCauley’s M 10), from Larsen’s on 16th St. Our pasture is good. The horses are plump and happy. Florida hay is expensive, but very high quality hay is available. My hay bill is less than half of what it was when we lived in Virginia.


            • #7
              I am not in Florida, but in coastal South Carolina - so similar for horse keeping purposes. I have Bahia grass in my pastures, and have 4.5 acres of pasture for 2 horses. In the summer I keep my horses out overnight, and in a dry lot during the day. While they are in the dry lot they have Timothy hay available. Overnight they get no hay, just grass.

              I personally am not comfortable feeding just grass 24/7. Bahia is pretty poor nutrition for a horse. Also, the sugars from grass can cause problems with insulin and with hooves, so I try to limit it a bit.

              In the winter I dry lot overnight and turn horses out during the day, but I put hay out in the pastures so that they have something decent to eat and also don't overgraze my pastures down to nothing. I could do this in the dry lot but I like them to get out and move around a bit during the day. They end up having hay available 24/7 when the grass isn't growing.

              As far as coastal hay goes, I have fed it but I don't like it. I don't think the horses look as good on it, and I worry incessantly about colic. Unfortunately one of my horses can't eat Orchard hay, which is pretty easily available here. Timothy is much harder to source. Last winter I ended up buying Standlee Timothy at $20.00 a bale. Ouch. Right now I am getting really nice Timothy for $14.00 a bale and am pretty much doing the happy dance.


              • #8
                I'd not risk feeding coastal/bermuda. If it makes you feel any better, I pay $17 for a 50 lb bale of Timothy.


                • #9
                  I have had zero issues feeding coastal bermuda. I moved to the Ocala area 2.5 years ago. I have over-grazed pastures and my farm is straight sand so doesn't really grow "lush" pasture anyway like they can get over near HITS (west side of the county). My thoroughbreds are not easy keepers, so they're out 24/7 in a 2-acre field as well as having access to a Tifton roll at all times. I've fed coastal squares in the past when I can't find Tifton and they've been perfectly fine with it. You'll get responses from many people on either side of the fence as far as coastal hay goes. But as others have said, if you have lush pastures, you may not to feed any hay at all during the summer.
                  I'm from Ohio where alfalfa was $4/50-lb bale. I just can't stomach paying $21+ for the same. It's absurd. The cheapest way to feed Alfalfa or O/A is the compressed bales from Larsen's, which I did for a while when we moved here, but mine eat that stuff like crack, even with a slow-feed net on it, and I'm not spending $100 on a 500-lb block every five days.
                  Custom tack racks!


                  • #10
                    But. Coastal Bermuda is highly implicated in ileal impactions, as borne out by research and studies.

                    That said, the more it's "buffered" by other types of hay and grass, the lower the risk.
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                    • #11
                      Yes, however there's thousands of horses in this country that are fed only coastal bermuda hay and do not have issues. I believe in some parts of Texas it's about the only hay available, period - you can't get T/O/A even if you're willing to pay an arm and a leg for it.
                      Custom tack racks!


                      • Original Poster

                        Thank you everyone for the responses! Good perspective about the nutritional quality of Bahia grass...seems it may be a good idea to keep feeding at least some hay during the summer. I like the idea of 1 flake of Alfalfa per horse per day.

                        Will definitely look look into the compressed pasture bales for the winter!


                        • #13
                          Horses used to Bermuda hay are typically fine on it. It's all we commoners fed 'back in the day' and everything was fine. I have a horse who is heave-y on Bermuda but fine on bahia. I'm in AL where alfalfa, timothy, etc all have to be shipped in and they can be quite pricey!

                          I supplement my horse's hay (bahia) with safechoice and half a scoop of alfalfa pellets. They look fantastic and my hay bill is reasonable. This time of year they are on just bahia pasture and look good. No hay, just the feed mentioned above (just once per day, by the way. They don't have hard jobs or need for much hard feed).

                          rough looking guy

                          mixing it with better hay to acclimatize their guts would be wise. Think of it like any other big feed change.
                          Last edited by TMares; Jun. 7, 2019, 12:42 PM.


                          • #14
                            The farm I keep my mare on trucks in hay (timothy or timothy/orchard) from out of state twice a year - sometimes KY, sometimes even Canada. With 14+ horses on the property at any one point in time, and since the trucker rents storage space for his rig on the property, it makes sense for the BO to do that instead of buying locally.

                            We had a dry spell here and the back pastures went to crap, so those horses have a pasture bale, in addition to the 2 flakes timothy and 1 "flake" of coastal they get at each mealtime. Hay is given year-round. There was a time period this winter where it was hard to source timothy for a decent price, so everyone lived on coastal for a few weeks. No one died or lost weight, but they didn't really enjoy it.

                            I consider myself lucky - I have a friend in Miami who has to ration her hay - it's so expensive! Her mare mostly gets hay cubes. She didn't want to consider a coastal round bale because of possible ileal impaction issues.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TMares View Post
                              Horses used to Bermuda hay are typically fine on it. It's all we commoners fed 'back in the day' and everything was fine. I have a horse who is heave-y on Bermuda but fine on bahia. I'm in AL where alfalfa, timothy, etc all have to be shipped in and they can be quite pricey!

                              I supplement my horse's hay (bahia) with safechoice and half a scoop of alfalfa pellets. They look fantastic and my hay bill is reasonable. This time of year they are on just bahia pasture and look good. No hay, just the feed mentioned above (just once per day, by the way. They don't have hard jobs or need for much hard feed).

                              rough looking guy

                              mixing it with better hay to acclimatize their guts would be wise. Think of it like any other big feed change.
                              Poor guy. You can see he is suffering


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by candyappy View Post

                                Poor guy. You can see he is suffering
                                He is, just look at him. He can't even stand to look at himself.