The quality of hay plays a crucial role in maintaining your horse’s weight and overall health. Today, we share a real-life scenario from one of our owners who’s horse faced weight loss challenges despite providing high-quality hay. By understanding the significance of hay quality and implementing proper measurement techniques, you can make informed decisions about your horse’s diet and ensure they receive the necessary calories for optimal weight management.
Assessing the Feeding Program:
A concerned horse owner sought assistance when their horse began losing weight despite being recommended alfalfa hay to address ulcer issues. With exceptional quality hay containing 1,000 calories per pound, the owner couldn’t determine the cause of weight loss in the horse’s feeding program.
Calculating the Diet:
Analyzing the horse’s work schedule and body condition score, we calculated a daily diet requirement of 21.5 Mcal. The diet consisted of four flakes of timothy hay and four pounds of grain per day. To meet the 2% body weight requirement for forage, we aimed for 20 pounds of hay, while the old hay tested at 800 calories per pound. The grain contributed 1.43 Mcal with a calorie content of 1,430 calories per pound.
Forage = 16 Mcal
Grain = 5.7 Mcal
Total = 21.7 Mcal
Identifying the Issue:
Despite feeding the same amount of hay, the owner believed there was a problem with the grain since the hay was of exceptional quality. However, we discovered that each flake of the old hay weighed around 5 pounds, which allowed us to reach the 20-pound feed rate with four flakes. When we weighed several flakes of the new hay, they averaged 3 pounds per flake.
Finding the Solution:
The problem became evident when we did the math. Each flake of timothy hay provided 5 pounds, resulting in a total of 16 Mcal (16,000 calories) per day. However, the new alfalfa hay, weighing 3 pounds per flake, only provided 12 Mcal (12,000 calories) per day. With this simple change, the horse’s caloric intake had been reduced by 4,000 calories daily over the past month. Increasing the number of hay flakes in the daily ration promptly resolved the issue.
The quality and measurement of hay significantly impact your horse’s weight management. This real-life example demonstrates the importance of accurately measuring hay portions and understanding its calorie content. By selecting the appropriate hay and ensuring your horse receives the necessary calories, you can effectively manage their weight and maintain their overall health.