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  • Hay/stalls

    How long would you say is an acceptable amount of time for a horse to be in it's stall with no access to hay?
    12 hours? 18? 24?

    I understand that different horses have different needs, but generally speaking, what say you?

    Is it a normal/acceptable practice to never provide a horse hay?

  • #2
    Originally posted by JackandMo View Post
    Is it a normal/acceptable practice to never provide a horse hay?
    Some horses can not have hay.
    Some parts of the country the hay shortage has required horse owners to get creative in their feeding so roughage is provided other ways.

    There is obviously more to this question/story than you are telling us. Why not give us all the details?


    • Original Poster

      Because there really isn't more to the story.

      I've noticed a lot of people lately (in various places, not at just one particular barn) leaving their horses stalled for extended periods of time without hay. Hay shortage isn't an issue here in NC. If it was, obviously that would be a legitimate reason to be creative. So would medical reasons. Some of the excuses I've heard is financial and time constraints (?)

      I am just curious as to what others find to be an acceptable amount of time that a horse is stalled without hay.


      • #4
        Well, I guess I look at it the other way around. How much hay does the horse get and why are they with out hay when you notice them?

        My horses need so many calories of hay per day (they get almost no grain to speak of so hay is 99% of their diet). More hay means obese horses. I put that hay into a system to slow their eating down (small hole hay bags, etc) but in the end, they stand around with out hay for however many hours after they finish their hay, before the next feeding.

        Some easy keeper types simply can not have free choice hay.


        • #5
          My horse gets hay am then go out and pm then stay in as well as 20 other horses in the barn. They eat their hay at varying speeds. They may go 8 hours without hay but non of them have developed bad habits or died because of it. If my horse had hay in front of him the entire time he was in his stall he wouldn't fit out the stall door. He doesn't need hay in front of him all the time.


          • #6
            My horses are pretty much never without food. They are out 24/7, but when brought in due to inclement weather, they are thrown a ton of hay multiple times per day. They really never run out when they're in the stalls.
            Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
            White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

            Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


            • #7
              Originally posted by JackandMo View Post
              Because there really isn't more to the story.

              I've noticed a lot of people lately (in various places, not at just one particular barn) leaving their horses stalled for extended periods of time without hay. Hay shortage isn't an issue here in NC. If it was, obviously that would be a legitimate reason to be creative. So would medical reasons. Some of the excuses I've heard is financial and time constraints (?)

              I am just curious as to what others find to be an acceptable amount of time that a horse is stalled without hay.

              When there is a shortage in one area, there is a shortage everywhere. There were droughts and shortages is several areas this year, so yes, even NC is effected in one way or another $$$$$$.


              • #8
                None of those times you mentioned would be acceptable to me without a medical reason.
                You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.


                • #9
                  To address your generalized question, I'd prefer no longer than 8 hours. I do not think horses must have food in front of them 24/7--because no horse eats constantly, not even "in the wild". In a stabling situation, based on my 20+ years of boarding, I'd say most horses spend the night (about 8 hours) hayless. My various horses have all survived this just fine.
                  Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                  • #10
                    What PJ said. I'm lucky enough to have my horses at home and I try really hard to have hay in front of them all the time. Except the minis who would explode. Recently I have been very successful with the great products from Cinch Chix. Small hole hay nets. Makes them eat slowly but I can put a whole bale out for them. They "graze" on it, then stand around daydreaming. Realistically though as Calvincrowe said, in a boarding situation they will go overnight hayless unless the facility wants to try these nets.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by HPFarmette View Post
                      unless the facility wants to try these nets.
                      And ....... unless the horses are not easy keepers and will eat too much, even with a net.

                      Using a small hole hay net does not guarantee the horses will not over eat. Or maybe my three just did not get the manual that told them this.


                      • #12
                        Mine aren't generally in stalls unless they're on stall rest or I need to keep them in for some reason, but they get hay twice a day most days, in nets or bags which last them about 6 hours. So they have hay in front of them roughly 6 hours on and 6 hours off.

                        If they are confined to a stall for longer than a day or two, I make an effort to keep hay in front of them more or less constantly unless the horse is fat.
                        Click here before you buy.


                        • #13
                          up to eight hours is fine no more than 12 without

                          depending on where you live in NC hay can be really really expensive and not all places can store great quantities of hay, if you have over 20 horses you will go through 200 bales fast

                          where I am no they get a round bale in the field and hay in the stall, my guy is fat he will zoom through hay

                          when I lived in the city where the cost of board is high and space is limited and hay is expensive to get there most horses were fed 4-6 flakes spread out through the day morning, lunch, dinner and night check so the horses didn't go longer than 8 hours
                          nothing is more annoying than a horse that flings its hay around the stall and pees and poops on it then looks at you and feeding in sections helps that a lot


                          • #14
                            4 hours without any hay is my maximum. That is for my easy keepers. Hard keepers? Never without hay.

                            Unless there is a medical reason, hay shortage, or a weight problem, IMO a horse should always have hay...preferably in a slow feed hay net.
                            come what may

                            Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


                            • #15
                              In a perfect/ dream world our horses would munch away 24/7. When I boarded 20+ years ago the horses were stalled 24/7 unless the owner had them out. They were fed Am and Pm only. They did fine. No colics, ulcers etc..

                              Ideas have changed in those years to where it is thought they must have access to food at all times. I don't stall my horses and I don't provide free choice hay either. If I had a thin horse I would feed it more and keep it separate at feeding time. If I did stall mine I would split up the feedings into 3 per day to give them something to do.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                                And ....... unless the horses are not easy keepers and will eat too much, even with a net.

                                Using a small hole hay net does not guarantee the horses will not over eat. Or maybe my three just did not get the manual that told them this.
                                No, it won't, especially if you continuously fill it or just give them too much. The idea of slowing their eating down is so that they 'graze' longer and keep the roughage moving through their systems over a longer period of time, especially if you aren't much into feeding 6 times per day. My horse could finish his morning hay in a half hour to an hour (tops)... and then go up to 11 1/2 hours until his next feeding. By using slow feeders, he finishes his hay in about 6-8 hours and then is only without hay for 4-6 hours. Same amount of hay.

                                Answer to OP's question, somewhere I had heard 4 hours was a good "maximum" amount of time without hay. Sorry I can't quote the source, and certainly many horses go much longer without hay in front of them, mine included.


                                • #17
                                  Most of my horses are hay vacuums. Hay - even 20lbs of it - lasts no more than two hours. If I feed at 5:00 PM, they're done by 7:00PM. Then, they have until 7:00 AM until I feed again. So each of my vacuums goes at least 12 hours without hay each night. Even the horse I have that is a nibbler goes over four hours without hay. None of them have come to any harm because of this.


                                  • #18
                                    My horses are never without hay....and if on the SUPER RARE chance they are, it would never be more than 1-2 hours. Horses are meant to be digesting forage on a continual basis. To each his own, but I know I've never had any colics or other digestive issues during my 20 years of horse management. They each get about 10lbs morning and 10lbs night. If we get a cold snap, they'll get 5lbs of alfalfa as well. I'll spend the most money on hay, and I won't complain about it. I feel it's one of the best insurance policies you can have on your horse.
                                    Oh, and I have an easy keeping appy AND a thoroughbred. I feed hay quality based on the easy keeper, and add alfalfa and fat supplement as needed for the TB. I choose to feed a 1st cutting timothy that only comes in at about 7% protein! They clean it up, but they don't hoover it up. It took me 4 years of trial & error to find a hay supplier with the exact quality of hay I needed.


                                    • #19
                                      I have 2 horses boarded at different facilities. To prevent running out or being without hay for an extended time, I use extended day freedom feeders. Definitely doesn't guarantee that there will be hay in the morning especially depending on how many flakes are given. But they both like them and they are the easiest nets I have used.

                                      I personally don't think horses should be without hay for more than 4 hours. I try to keep grass/hay in front of my ulcer prone horse 24-7.


                                      • #20
                                        Maybe a few hours, but preferably none. We feed alfalfa mix four times per day, but all horses have all the grass hay they can eat put into big slow feed nets for the times in between their regular feedings. Horses simply are not designed to have empty stomachs, they should always be able to nibble/forage in order to maintain gut health. Most horses do not get fat on this system and quite frankly, a bit of chub is a lot less detrimental than ulcers and colic.

                                        "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.