Thursday, November 13, 2008

Got Hay?

This will be my first winter in New England where I am 100% responsible for the horses. Previously, I boarded and hay was included. So when it came time to think about hay, I figured 2% of body weight of the two horses would come out to about one 50 lb bale a day. Then I looked at my rail thin Thoroughbred and decided that I never wanted her to go without, so I multiplied that number by 1.5. And I decided that I didn't want to buy hay again until I could get second cutting, so next August up here, at the earliest.

So I bought 10 ton of hay. 500 bales of hay, if you average 40 lb bales. Timothy. From Canada.

And it all came today. Wouldn't you know it, 500 bales of hay takes up a lot of room. I am sure I will look back on this and laugh, but I seriously think I went overboard. Those that know me personally know I never half ass anything. And I can honestly say I did not half ass buying hay.

So now there's hay in my garage. I removed the light bulbs that would be close to the hay. I put down a layer of pallets over the cement floor. Then I put down a layer of cardboard boxes broken down to lay flat (I just so happened to have some moving boxes handy) to soak up the moisture from the cold floor before it ruined the bottom layer of bales. Then I started stacking. And stacking. And stacking.

When the garage was full, I started stacking in the loft in the barn. There's enough ventilation in the barn, in fact too much (I found a hole in the roof tonight when it rained). I got 100 bales in the barn.

Then I moved to the trailer. In my three horse trailer, I stacked the remaining 20 bales.

Lucky for me, the horses like the hay. Lucky for them, they will be in hay until, oh, January 2010. Unlucky for my twelve year old car, it will not be garaged this winter. It's only fitting, since the hay cost more than the car.

I will likely try to sell some of the hay since I really don't want to feed the horses hay that old next fall. But until then, bon app├ętit!


Maybe Mae said...

Oh my goodness. I love the pics of all that hay buy my arms and back hurt just at the thought of moving it all. I'm sure Brego is more than willing to eat his way through it ASAP so your car can go back in the garage. :)

Tripple Spring said...

Definitely better to be safe than sorry!!!

dp said...

Holy moly! I thought I went overboard with 400 bales for the year...

Our storage bay is 9' X 8' X 18' and it fits 200 bales. You must have a big garage. Poor car.

Regardless of the possible excess, doesn't it feel nice?

Funder said...

I guess I'll be the first to say that I don't think you went too far overboard.

When Poppy was a lazy unmuscled 3 year old, last winter, he could eat a 50 lb bale in ONE DAY if he was bored / hungry / at loose ends.

With one Percheron and one light horse, I'd have probably purchased 450 bales to have 300 days of hay for them. You'll certainly have enough... but I'm paranoid too and I don't think you overbought!

Having said that... Yeah, I don't envy your arms. Or your nose; moving hay gets me 100% congested yet still sneezing!

EvenSong said...

40 pound bales!! We get our timothy locally from an exporter--to get the most in a cargo container to go to Japan, his bales average 120 pounds! I only WISH I had to stack those 40 pounders! Don't feel too sorry for me, tho--mine comes in 5 ton loads on a harrowbed--straight from the field to my barn, never lifted by human ('specially old lady) hands (unless they "spill" the stack as they unload it!).

As for figuring, since I have the [hard-work-earned] luxury of 12 acres of irrigated pasture for my [current] 7 equines, I only have to feed hay for the winter. I figure 2 ton each, with the two retired geldings with lousy teeth getting an extra ton (or two) of more palatable and chewable (and cheaper) grass hay to supplement. So your 10 ton should be enough for, say, 3 to 4 head thru next summer's harvest--'cept Brego probably counts for two...

Tina said...

We feed round bales, so the calculation is a little different, but for a light horse, esp. one that is a harder keeper, I'd say 50#/day is minimum. For a heavy horse, plan on 75#/day min. Of course, a lot depends, too, on how much they're worked, if you're giving grain as well, how you feed your hay (how much is wasted), and how they're kept. A horse with good shelter will eat less than one without. Good luck!

ps~ Square bales store best on pallets, where air can get underneath.

Daun said...

Thanks everyone for your great comments/suggestions. Based on your feedback, I will likely not sell any hay right now and see how they go through it when it really gets cold.

I did store the hay on pallets. Another good trick is to put down a layer of paper wrapped shavings as the first layer off the pallets. This will also absorb moisture from the floor.

75 lbs! Wow! I pay pretty close attention (i.e., never happy) with how much the horses have been fed at previous barns and I can honestly say that Brego has never received 75 lbs of hay in a day, not even 50 lbs. I do feed nutrient-dense feed, with a lot of protein and fat, which I suppose helps.

At the last barn, he was getting maybe 25 lbs of hay a day (in addition to 8lbs of feed) and I was very unhappy, but he never looked better. I have NEVER felt a rib on Brego, even at the peak of our workouts this past summer. Right now, he's more than a little tubby from his injury and being out of work.

As for heavy vs light, that TB mare is going to eat me out of house and home. She gets the same hay and THREE TIMES the feed and you can see ribs. I've had blood work done, worming done, teeth done, chiro done, acupuncture done, switched feeds until her highness found one she liked, etc. She eats every morsel and doesn't gain. I guess that's an older Tb for you. The only thing that puts weight on that mare is green grass, and I just don't have it here, so she gets handgrazed on the lawn every day and all the gorgeous hay she can eat. We're putting out a little more than a bale a day now and there's lots of waste.

Anyway, thanks for all the comments everyone. I will not feel so bad for buying so much now and see how it goes!!

Jackie said...

That sure is a beautiful site after reading everyone's hay woes of the last year. Definitely better to have a little too much than to run out.

And you're right, that is a typical thoroughbred. They can each twice as much as a horse twice their size and still show ribs. Definitely not easy keepers, unlike Mr. Brego there. :) You've definitely got both ends of the spectrum.

Serena said...

I have both ends of the spectrum too and i'm in the same boat as your last boarding barn. Each horse gets about 25 lbs of hay a day. I've always heard that, unless you're working them hard, you should ideally feed 1% of their body weight 2x or 3x daily. Thus, a 1200 lb horse gets 12 lbs of hay in the a.m. and in the p.m. I do wish they got a little more, and i have my TB on Senior feed, but both my horses look awesome, so i really can't complain.

BritnieAnn said...

WOW!! That is a LOT of bales, thank goodness you found places for it all!! But with a percheron, I think you are better to play safe then sorry! ;)

Rhyadawn said...

500 40lb bales is not a lot of hay for 2 horses. You may find you won't have as much left over next summer as you think you will.

I'm feeding a 40lb bale per day to the stallions I am caring for right now. Its good hay, and none of them are hard keepers.

I really like your set up btw, your barn is so well done, and the inground water trough from the spring is genious!

Bev said...

Or, you could let Brego and Hobby sleep in it, too. Jack is never happier than when he has a totally unleashed round bale. He and his pasture buddies eat until he needs a nap. He then sprawls his big old body across what's left of it while his buddies stand watch. When he wakes up, they all dig in again. There are definite advantages to being the big banana.

Last Saturday they put the first round bale of the Winter in his paddock. By Wednesday, the three of them had eaten most of it!