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Round bale woes- feeding pasture horses (newbie to keeping-horses-at-home question)

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  • Round bale woes- feeding pasture horses (newbie to keeping-horses-at-home question)

    I have 5 horses. One is boarded 2 doors down because he is very high maintenance. The other 4 are in our pasture.

    I started feeding round bales 2 months ago, not because our pasture was gone but because it was a good time to see what our horses would do on it.

    Our first round bale lasted 6 days - this is for 3 horses and one shetland pony who still had decent pasture. This was crappy hay- think the Wonder Bread of hay.

    The next round bale was like the filet mignon of hay, from the same place I buy my sqare bales. A lot of alfalfa and so green and leafy you want to put salad dressing on it and eat it yourself. For 3 horses and the evil pony this lasted 5 days. 2 OTTBs love it but draft X and shetland are getting obese (and thats with the TB's chasing the pony off the round bale.

    We are into the season that our pasture just ain't cuttin' it. So I find some medium quality round bales, but they are so big that we can't manhandle (no tractor here-- if only we could sell that stupid corvette that we dont need) them and just have to let them rest where they may= tons of waste. 2 GIANT round bales last less than 2 weeks because they have been laid on-pooped in-peed on.

    So my (non-horsey) husband determines that it would be cheaper to just feed sqaure bales all winter.

    Major problem with that: the horses who really need it are the low members of the group who won't get it and will get chased off of the flakes I throw.

    I don't have stalls here, just a really big run-in. If I can't feed round bales I can't make sure that they get what they need. I DO bring my one harder keeper in for grain 2X day but I don't feel that there is a substitute for free choice hay.

    Is there a better way to make round bales work? I have a round bale feeder which works for the smaller bales , but I just can't manipulate the larger ones. And it seems like all the medium quality hay is of the 1400+ variety.

    How long do you expect a round bale to last 3 horses/1pony?

    Sorry for being a newbie/idiot
    Rhythm the perfect OTTB;Spock the will-be perfect OTTB;Mia the Arab/appendix COTH giveaway

  • #2
    How long one lasts depends on how large it is

    I have 500-600lb bales that I peel off and dole out twice a day for 3 horses. It lasts a week. The 600lb usually lasts 8 days - just depends on how cold things are and whether I'm putting out bigger heaps or 3x a day.
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


    • #3
      If you feed square bales, make sure you put out a minimum of one extra flake more than the # of horses you have(I usually put out at least 2 extra). This way the lowest horse will always have a flake to go to when the bullies chase him away.


      • #4
        Dear God don't sell the vett.
        In my experience, when they are fed free choice they tend to eat as much as they need, plus some. So if it is good quality hay they tend to eat less and if it is Wonder Hay they will eat much more (plus get hay belly). If you feed something like ration or alfalfa pellets it will reduce the amount of hay consumed. I have approx 1000pd bales that are good quality that feeds 2 -full size donks, 1-17hh Warmblood and her 4 month old weed. A bale lasts about 4 weeks. They get 6 pounds of ration (for all of them, and mostly for the brats sake), and a ¼ square bale (12 pounds) of alfalfa but can use cubes or pellets plus free choice mineral and salt, separately. At that rate they are eating about 1% of their body weight in hay and they are all on the “healthy” side.
        As far as the big bale problem, if you can buy livestock panels and put them around your bales (that are in rows). Then you can get someone to cut 2 of the panels down to 2-3 feet (in the middle) and then move the “short” panels along the row so the horses are only exposed to two bales at a time. The panels are not that heavy and you would only have to move them every couple of weeks. Just some ideas.

        Page 3 http://www.ufa.net/PDFFiles/Livestoc..._Equipment.pdf

        I also live in an area where it is cold, so they need to eat more.
        Last edited by stoicfish; Nov. 13, 2009, 12:00 AM.


        • #5
          WOW, wish my 1000 bales would last 4 weeks! I have three OTTB's - a round bale lasts about 1 week - maybe 1.5 weeks depending on the grass out there - none of which can really be found here now. We feed the RB with a RB feeder for horses and there is STILL alot of waste - them throwing it outside the feeder, pooping and peeing on it. However, we are somewhat lucky, what they don't clean up, we scoop up with the tractor and throw over the fence to the cows!


          • #6
            I have been getting 800-900# round bales for a few months now. Mine last anywhere from 2-3 weeks for one 16.2 gelding, one mini, 1 mini donk and a dwarf. As it is getting colder they are eating it quicker. No tractor here either but I built a feeder in the fence line (one side feeds the mini and mini donk and the gelding is on the other side, I peel off for dwarf) that I can back the trailer partially into and tie the bale to a tree opposite the bale. I then pull the trailer out and the bale drops off into the feeder. The side of the feeder that I am backing into lifts out and out of the way. I then just replace the side I removed to get the trailer in the feeder and remove strings/netting. Mini and mini donk are air ferns and don't need as much so I built up thier sides so they can not reach over but on the bottoim it is open for about a foot and I make sure there is hay feeding undeer the bottom board for them to munch on. Gelding can eat to his hearts content on the other side of the feeder. My trailer will hold two of these big bales so I go about once a month and get two more. My hay guy only sells to me and sells me two at a time. He has about 1,000 bales but has his own critters to feed so he can't really sell more than what I need a year without cutting himself short.


            • #7
              Some options:

              For use with a round bale ring: The RB Net - It will slow them all down and avoid a lot of waste. Although kinda pricey. A cheaper alternative is make your own with three Hockey Nets sewn together...then use bungie cords to close.

              There's also the Big Bale Buddy - although that'd be tough for ponies/minis to get to.

              Lastly, get ahold of Sidepasser. She's got a FAB design for an in-fence RB Feeder. It's gorgeous.
              <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


              • #8
                We had the same problem as you did, we have 4 horses currently and after several years of feeding round bales, having to clean up the mess they left of whatever they didn't want to eat or just being pigs, I, and my husband, have had enough of that. So, we did switch to square bales and let me tell you, it is a lot easier, hardly any mess to clean up and in the long run, would rather pay a bit more for hay and store it in squares then clean up the mess, especially in the winter!

                We went and bought two large rubbermaid water troughs, the kind that can hold up to 300 gallons of water. Hubby drilled large holes in the bottom for drainage in case it rains or snows, then we put them a good distance from one another. Each one I throw a square into, breaking it up and putting the flakes around the inside so each horse has a chance to stand a bit away from the other one and get hay. If two of my horses don't like the others, they can go to the second trough and get hay there, I do the same, break the square bale up and flake the hay around the inside for easier access.

                When the ground gets muddy or broke up around the feeder I simply drag it to firmer ground, giving the ground where it was time to firm up again and/or dry out. May sound hard but it honestly isn't and I don't mind going out in the morning and at night and throwing hay in them. If there is any left over hay or waste on the ground, I don't give as many squares, I move the trough, then let them eat what they threw out and usually by morning, it is gone.

                Good luck on what you do, here is a photo of what I was talking about:



                • #9
                  I peel off and throw hay over the fence into a feeder 2 or 3 times a day. The feeder was made from scrap wood and keeps them from peeing and pooing on it.

                  I like the net idea though. May have to look into that.


                  • #10
                    My round bales are 800 lbs give or take and medium quality. One lasts my 5 horses 7 days if I put it out to eat free choice (or nine if I feed by doling it out).
                    Are you using a feeder? Or maybe you could place the round bale where you only let them at it for a few hours in the morning and eveing?
                    We have a tractor, but I actually find it easier to "man-handle" them. I can move one by myself (takes a bit of doing, but hey, its a great work out). If you can rock it enough to push it on its side and then roll- you should be home free!
                    "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
                    So you might as well have a good time"


                    • #11
                      24/7 access to a rb 3 horses and pony? 10 days, max.

                      I'd invest in a RB feeder to reduce waste.


                      • #12
                        We found round bale holders that I can move by myself with no problem, and they minimized waste enough to make the round for our five horses last almost two weeks (we actually go through 2 rounds every 3-4 weeks). We use two rounds in the field to enable the lower herd members to actually get bale time. It really helps.

                        Below is the link to the feeder. They cost about $300, but we felt that we made our money back in saved hay the first winter we had them.

                        Last edited by jazzrider; Nov. 13, 2009, 10:55 AM. Reason: Bad spelling!
                        "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
                        <>< I.I.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by IveGotRhythm View Post

                          How long do you expect a round bale to last 3 horses/1pony?

                          Sorry for being a newbie/idiot
                          it depends on the RFV of the hay...unless you know that you can only guess at % of weight per day intake plus about 25% loss when not fed in something

                          but as an odd turn you can make sure everyone gets some and lose less hay by rolling the things out on the ground...in truth, more hay gets eaten by more horses this way and less will be loss to stomping and tromping even on the ground

                          and you may be suprised what they hay actually looks like when it was baled

                          Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                          I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                          • #14
                            Do you guys leave your round bales out in the weather? Doesn't it get modly/dusty being rounded up? I never use RB's because I would think they would. I see these 2 horses out all the time with a sunbleached, dryed up looking wet, black and heavy RB. *They are fat and healthy though*

                            My thought would be plenty of square bales. Separate the hay steeling horses from the other ones that need it.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ozone View Post
                              Do you guys leave your round bales out in the weather? Doesn't it get modly/dusty being rounded up? I never use RB's because I would think they would. I see these 2 horses out all the time with a sunbleached, dryed up looking wet, black and heavy RB. *They are fat and healthy though*
                              if your RB is black and nasty, you have either bought a black and nasty RB to being with or you have purchased more hay than the horses can eat in<x> period of time

                              that time depends mostly on how humid your climate is...

                              Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                              I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                              • #16
                                Wow, I put round bales out in the dead of winter. They last at least 3 weeks with 2 TBs, mustang, quartehorse and and warmblood. They do come in at night and are some are fed grain. I really like the water trough idea, might try it as long as they don't fight over it!


                                • #17
                                  We stopped feeding round bales because it was hard finding good quality ones in our area. When we did feed them, they lasted 1-2 weeks depending on our pasture quality.

                                  I switched to feeding square bales and while it does cost a little more, it is well worth it! One thing I do to make sure the horses do not fight is I do not put them out in flakes. I found they fight over them. I read somewhere to shake out each flake making a trail of hay. This simulates grazing and the horses do not fight over their "pile". I thought it sounded weird but I gave it try because I have a VERY dominate gelding. For some reason it works! It also creates movement instead of standing at one pile or round bale all day. It also seems to keep them busy longer. Hope my explanation is clear!


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                                    Wow, I put round bales out in the dead of winter. They last at least 3 weeks with 2 TBs, mustang, quarter horse and and warmblood. They do come in at night and are some are fed grain. I really like the water trough idea, might try it as long as they don't fight over it!
                                    Laura...it really is a great way to feed, the horses can bang and kick at the feeders and they don't dent, they don't break and are easy to clean if you have to. I have two of them so the horses who hang out together can go to one and the others to the 2nd one. One horse throws his hay out to get the better hay so anyone who can't get right up to the feeder is content to eat what is thrown out on the ground.

                                    If there is anything they won't eat, I simply move the trough to another hard area of ground, then only give them enough to start with and by morning they eat what was on the ground. So not a lot of waste to pick up or worry about. If you need photo's pm me and I can send you a few...


                                    • #19
                                      This is such an interesting thread. I have considered feeding round bales for years but I have held back because of concerns about waste and the danger of a bad bale.
                                      To the o/p, I would be very careful about feeding anything free choice that is loaded with alfalfa, especially to ponies. You could be risking laminitis with that setup.

                                      My horses are out all day/in at night and I would love the ease of letting them munch on a round bale rather than slogging through the snow to make piles of hay twice a day. I'm getting closer to trying a round bale after reading this thread.


                                      • #20
                                        I'll tell you what worked really well for me.
                                        Put the RB in an area you can prevent access to. If you still have grass but dont want them to destroy it, this is a great happy medium. You could use temp fence posts and hot wire that's easy to put up and take down every day. I was fortunate to have more than one run in type situation for my guys, so we put the RB in one, and shut the door to it during the day.
                                        The horses had access at night, happily munching.
                                        Also take a manure fork to the perimeter of the bale DAILY. take good hay that's fallen and lob it back on top of the bale, discard soiled hay, and keep the area clean and dry around your RB.
                                        You waste over half your RB letting it fall to the ground, get peed on and rot. If you maintain the area daily it will last a lot longer.
                                        chaque pas est fait ensemble