Grazing /Foraging or at the very least mimicking the grazing /foraging action is the most natural act a horse can perform. His survival depends on it. By grazing we mean: the act of eating and traveling at the same time. Covering ground while using those prehensile lips to full capacity. Actually, foraging is more natural for the horse. To forage means to search for what one wants or needs. So by placing hay all over the EQ system the horses stay busy foraging for food and continually ‘grazing’ in the process … and by feeding hay in this way, we actually use less hay and have little to no waste.
We have had 5 horses on less than 4 acres. Our method of feeding hay (like shaking out each flake of hay in different spots) helps the horses meet the grazing requirement. If the horse evolved as a grazer/forager it must mean that their digestive system is designed to process small amounts of food on a more or less continual basis. Our horses always have a supply of hay (grass hay) day and night. The act of foraging or grazing is virtually constant which may mean feeding hay 4 to 6 times per day… depending on how much land you have available.
Sometimes during the cold winter months we utilize round bales, situated far from the water so they have to migrate (walk a ways) to get to the 'watering hole'. We also spread hay in other parts of the field. Feed and seed! The weather is a big factor on amounts of hay they consume. Colder weather equals an increase in hay consumption. In winter, the act of chewing hay is generally enough to regulate body temperature and we see them run and play when it gets very cold.
SLOW FEEDING with hay nets is also an option. Where there is a will there is a way.
Sometimes we will feed some whole oats and/or some black oil sunflower seeds. This is spread or sprinkled on the already spread out hay so there is no gulping … it takes longer to eat … no fighting with one another … and keeps them busy searching with those lips. They are happier and there is no need for any sweet feeds or processed feeds. We also have whole foods and supplemental vitamin and minerals…all natural and organic. (This is the Magik Product Line)
One thing horses are very sensitive to is dust and molds. Make sure your hay is clean and dust and mold free. Grass hay should be the first choice for horses.
Horses tend to drink more when it’s hot and less when it’s cold. It’s important to either supply a constant non-frozen source of water or fill the water source at the same time each day and encourage them to drink a big drink.
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