How Many Pounds of Hay Should One Feed a Horse Per Day?

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Horses that are worked will require more hay than a horse that is idle.
Horses that are worked will require more hay than a horse that is idle. (Image: Horse Riding Girl - Horse stopped in front of obstacle image by Kradsmit from Fotolia.com)

Free Choice Feeding Is More Natural.

Many horse owners prefer to "free choice" feed their horses. This is done by letting horses continually graze on grass or hay all throughout the day. This method is thought to most closely resemble a horse that grazes in the wild. Horse digestive systems do best when fed small amounts frequently vs. large amounts one time per day.

A Specified Amount Might Be Healthier.

While free choice feeding may work for some horses, some may get overweight and could be prone to laminitis or other health problems. The Horse website states that horses should be fed at least 1 to 2 percent of their body weight in hay per day. Optimally, these hay feedings should be broken down into three to four small feedings per day.

Bottom Line

In order to ensure a horse is getting fed enough hay, the flakes of hay should be weighed and fed by weight, not volume. Each horse should be fed individually as different horses will have different metabolisms. While one horse may do well being fed 6 lbs. of hay, another horse of the same size may require 10 lbs. of hay to maintain their body weight. Owners should also take into consideration the age and work level of the horse when determining how many lbs. of hay to feed.

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