Can horses eat too much hay?

I have 2 of my horses in a paddock with a round bale. They eat basically off and on (mostly on) all day from about 9am to 9pm. Is this OK?

Also, what is everyone's experience with round bales and their horses gaining wait?
Answers:
Horses do best grazing or free eating the way you have described, the incidence of colic and ulcers are way lower than in a horse that is only fed twice a day. So this could be very successful for you, especially since you have them out 12 hours and then in for 12 so they aren't eating all the time!
BUT - be aware that you will have to monitor your horse's weight. If they start putting on too much weight you will have to either feed a lower calorie type hay (such as grass hay instead of alfalfa), or you will have to increase their excercise or you will have to let them with the round bale for less time each day. Try to keep on top of it so they don't get actually fat, but just slightly round before you do something about it.
The other negative with round bales is you end up with a fair amount of wastage unless you use a round bale feeder. And some feeders cause the horse's to rub their manes and get bald spots from reaching through the bars, and I hate that!
So know what your horse's ideal weight is, and keep on top of it, and your feeding routine should be great!
Having hay always available is called "free-feeding". I've often done this for horses that I wanted to gain weight. I'm sure some horses, like people, will over eat. But generally, they will do what yours are doing.graze on and off throughout the day. I don't see much worng with that providing the horses are sufficiently exersized as well.
I don't have any experience with round bales. I can't imagine they are any different than square bails. Just packaged different. The grade of hay is what you need to be aware of. (ie: first cut, grass hay..etc.)
Yes. :)

Any more, I ration my round bales and scoop into a feeder twice daily with them. Or, you can allow them to graze all day on it and lock them up at night etc.

Mine get tooooooo fat on grazing 24/7 on hay.
I have kept my horses with a round bale an rain will lower the quality of it. I have covered one up before and pitchforked it to them and that worked well but was a pain. They did well with that set up although I do prefer square bales but that is a twice a day visit and the round bale is just so easy.
Hello,
I know from experience that it is fine for horses to eat just hay but if you are using round bales make sure they don't get wet or moldy because that will make them sick. Also if they start getting too fat stop with the easy access to the hay. 1/2 bail a day is good if you give them grain too but if hay only I wouldn't let them have more than a bale a day each. And of course lot's of clean water.
I hope I helped you,
Deb
No,However,they can eat too much grain.Grain will expand in their stomach which will cause them "founder".I may add though that you should not feed a horse on the ground because it will ingest and breath dust/dirt which will cause sand colic.Round bales will not cause your horse to gain any more weight than a rectangular bale will.
Round bales free fed are healthier for horses. (although horses that tend to founder and get overly fat shouldn't be fed this way unless they are going to be excercised ALOT)
Horses in the wild graze all day long..it keeps their stomach moving and keeps them happy and occupied.

the problem with free feeding and colic is usually encountered when horses are not used to having graze all day and will gorge themselves..so they need to be acclimitized to it gradually. (as when adding anything new to a horses diet.) If your horses are eating some, and moving away from it and coming back later..it sounds like they are fine with their feed that way. (in my area, round bales are usually a little less nutritionally packed then square...I'm not sure why??) We let our horses graze on the round bale, and do regular feedings 2x's a day on high quality hay when they need it..during the spring and early summer they usually don't need it...but we do include grain for vitamins, selenium, protein etc.

also, with round bales, keeping it off the ground, and keeping it dry are very important. Also, because it is still dry hay, a good fresh clean source of water is very very important...(it is always important, but even more so now)
This is truly a natural way to help skinny horses or hard keepers to gain weight. My horses (mostly hard keepers) always gain weight well when they are provided constant graze (round bale) with some senior feed and a little oil...my vet highly recomended this for my babies that I just could not get a handle on their lack of weight. Just remember..they need to get used to it, so slow and steady is the key.
Yes You should be careful. If in a paddock they don't need hay all day. Unless you want to fatten them up.
a horse digestive system is designed to forage 24 hours a day. granted they shouldnt be standing around and eating all day. try spreading the hay out into small piles that way the have to walk as they eat. as long as it is a grass hay and not alfalfa you shoulnt have problems with them gaining weight. 2 things that will make a horse gain weight are grain and grass. if you are concerned about them developing a "hay belly" you can feed bran mash once a week to help things pass through.
Well they can eat too much and they could collic. My horse never gets weight from it.
Yes it should be,the size of a horse it is OK to eat alot and they cant throw up or anything
no horses can't eat to much hay so it is perfectly alright to let horses eat all day off and on when they want to. this is actually better for them because it lets them eat with a more natural schedule than just morning and night which is how most people feed there horses. the only problem I had when feeding a round bale is the horses would wast a lot of feed by pulling hay of and then drooping it on the ground. I ride a lot so I didn't have any problem with my horses getting fat when they were eating all day but if they aren't getting enough exercise then they can eat to much and get very fat. Good Luck


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