I broke down and got a Hay Hut. I suspected ulcers in my mare and treated her with Gastrogard. As the "maintenance plan," I decided to switch to free choice hay in the "evening pasture" (about 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.). The horses are on another pasture during the day that still has grass, but we will start putting out hay there, too (already bought the square bales).
My neighbors keep their older two horses here, plus one donkey.
We got the round bale 9 days ago, and it's already gone. I don't know exactly how much it weighed, but it was a 4x5.
My mare has just reached about a lovely 4.5 on body score (OTTB, got her in August, needed to add 50-75 pounds). The other two horses are not exercised and are a bit overweight. The donkey is grossly overweight.
We are discussing possibly moving the Hay Hut to an adjoining paddock, letting them eat there for 3-4 hours each evening, then (presumably I) will go out and move them to the main evening pasture (with no extra hay). My girl gets 2 pounds each morning and 2 pounds each evening Triple Crown Senior. I've also been giving 1 pound of alfalfa cubes (soaked) each feeding, since I read the calcium content helps maintain a healthy digestive tract.
I sure wish I had just bought a bunch of those fancy slow feed bags instead of the Hay Hut! My neighbors had agreed to buy the first few round bales, and we already had all our hay for the "day time" pasture, so I thought I was set for winter.
Oh, and the other problem is my girl is the lowest (horse) on the pecking order. So (pre-Hay Hut) she would get chased away if scattered hay got down to just one spot left.
Normal consumption, IMO, for 3 horses and a donk. We have had some larger horses, groups of 2, that consistently go through a 4 by 5 bale a week! That is why I laugh when people complain about the cost of "field board" at my family farm. All that hay is $$ but free choice is healthy for the horses. You get what you pay for.
ChocoMare: I have looked at those bale nets, but I am still in sticker shock from the hay hut. I just own the one horse.
Yes, you are all probably right. Perhaps my neighbors were waiting for me to come up with this answer. I guess I will leave my girl alone with the hay. She will be right next to the others. The others aren't very nice to her, anyway. It just feels weird that the neighbor' horses get the big pasture and my horse gets the paddock at my own farm. (sigh)
On the bright side, it won't be my responsibility to move horses late at night.
I just had to say that 4 animals on a roundbale and it lasting 9 days is actually quite good! At my last boarding barn there were 4 horses in the field and the huge roundbales lasted about 4 days max. They also had access to grass. So you really aren't doing too badly. But if the other horses are obese then the other three should definitely be moved and your horse left with the hay.
alto and Katy: THANK YOU. I think my boarders plan to move sometime next year. I have heard this suggestion for a number of reasons, and I thought waiting was good because I am hoping to put an arena in next year and thought I could attract a more ideal boarder that way.
We have found that when at first offered free choice with unlimited hay, they will over do it until the novelty wears off. Then it will settle down. I would give it a few more weeks before you change your plan.
Sucker, the baseball nets are small enough that baseballs don't go through it. They sell them as safety netting for pitching or batting cages or whatever. I think they are about 1.5 inch squares, maybe 2 inch at most. Not actual baseball sized holes
Also, they make other sizes of netting for different kinds of fish. There are very very tiny hole nets too that they use for golf safety netting. You just gotta look and see what you think will work for you. They have loads of different colors and sizes.
Lisa, awesome ! That should be plenty big enough. I made mine like a tootsie roll and then redid it like a hershey kiss so that the tied part was all under the hay bale when I flipped it in the ring and the flat side was what they ate on. Both worked well but the tootsie roll design failed when my net lacing was not done well lol...I got in a hurry. So I decided to just not make it factor in and have horse mouths on it and put the bale in and flip it over on its laced side.