> Start with good quality hay (I know Susan said she hates that term,
> but it does apply).
Ummm...huh? When did I say I hate the term, "good quality hay"? I'm
confused. No problem...just confused :-) I love hay. My husband says
I'm embarrassing to take to the feed store.
The only other VERY minor point is:
You need at least 2% of the body
> weight of the horse. Lots of hay is upwards of 3% of the body weight
> of the horse.
Again, this is a minor point, but horses don't need quite that much hay,
and alot of horses WON'T eat that much hay. They do need a minimum of
1% of their BW to maintain gut motility and 1.5% is a better rule of
thumb. But if you have a hardworking horse that needs alot of calories,
and insist on stuffing him full of that much hay before adding calories
in the form of grain, he may not be able to eat that much. Most horses
at maintenance will voluntarily consume between 1.5 - 2% of their BW
daily. Lactating mares and horses at INTENSE work will consume up to 3%
of their BW and young foals will eat up to about 3.5%. But, most horses
won't consume much more than 2.5% of their BW on a daily basis. The
equine gut simply can't deal with much more than 3% (keep in mind they
have to drink water to go along with all of that), so I suspect horses
being provided with that much hay are probably wasting an awful lot.
You can certainly go ahead and provide plenty of hay and if he maintains
condition on just hay, great. I only point out the above in case
someone is having to add more calories in the form of grain or oil, and
is worried that if their horse isn't eating 2% of his bodyweight in hay
before he starts on the grain, he's going to have problems. Or, if
someone is piling 30 pounds of hay and grain in front of their horse and
is worried because he doesn't seem to be cleaning it all up.
Bottom line, 1.5% of BW in the form of hay as a "minimum" might be a
better rule of thumb, Wendy. No flames. Other than that, thanks again
and I agree with you---keep it simple, and for the most part, let the
nutritionists have a good time debating the fine print among themselves.