Does your horse have enough winter hay?

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By Levi Berg

 Winter is almost here, and if you’re a horse owner, you should already be preparing your winter hay supplies. 

One question I usually receive is “How much hay will I need?” 

My answer will never be simple. 

Every horse will have different nutritional requirements depending on stage of life, but for this article I will focus on a mature horse at light work. 

A mature horse at light work to maintenance should be receiving mainly a forage-based diet, and a 1,100-pound horse eats around 2 percent of its body weight. 

That equals 22 pounds of hay per day. Feeding for 120 days, December through March, would equal 1.3 tons of hay per horse. 

That is a nitty-gritty estimate for finding how much hay is needed.

You can do a few things to make the best of your hay inventory. 

A feed test is a good idea and can get you started in making the best use of the nutrients supplied by hay and supplements. 

If you are unsure about how to take a sample for a hay test, you can contact the Henry County Extension Office for help.

Remember to feed the amount your horse needs each day. 

That essentially means taking some control over the feed intake. Feeding free choice can result in your horses eating more than they need each day to meet their nutritional needs. This can be a difficult task for those who are using hay rolls rather than square-bales.

Use a suitable feeder for your horses to limit waste. Feeding on the ground can result in significant losses of feed. 

Researchers, using square-bale hay fed in controlled amounts, reported waste in the range of 20 percent, while others, feeding roll-bale hay without a feeder, reported waste in the 35 to 38 percent range. 

In that case, horse owners would need at least a half ton more hay per horse.

And finally, when you are buying hay, purchase a quality grass/legume hay as possible.

As the feeding season progresses, monitor your horses to make sure they are maintaining body condition and adjust feed as needed. If you are short on hay, you may need to feed some concentrate to provide all the nutrients your horses require.

If you estimate correctly, you should have some hay left when spring grass finally arrives. It is better to have some leftover than to run out in March.

For more information on winter hay feeding, contact the Henry County Cooperative Extension Service at (502) 845-2811.

Henry County Cattlemen’s Meeting

The Henry County Cattlemen’s Association will hold their annual meeting on Monday, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m. at the Henry County Extension Office. At this meeting, elections for the cattlemen’s board will be held, and the winners of the Henry County Youth Best Beef Contest will be announced. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP at the Henry County Extension Office at (502) 845-2811.

Kentucky Beef Conference

The 2017 Kentucky Beef Conference will be held on Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Fayette County Extension Office, 1140 Harry Sykes Way, Lexington. Topics include current beef cattle situation, distillery byproducts, insurance options, abortion diagnostics, year round calving and marketing strategies. Registration is $10. If interested, please contact the Fayette County Extension Office at (859) 257-5582.

Henry County Farmers’ Market

The Henry County Farmers’ Market vendors are still selling produce and meats raised in Henry County for any a few more weeks. The Henry County Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon in the front lawn of the Henry County Courthouse and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during peak season. In addition, most vendors accept Senior and WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program coupons. Do not hesitate and make your way to the Henry County Farmers’ Market!