Monday, January 21, 2008

Sticking To Your Feed Schedule

When feeding horses, it does make sense to try and keep the feed schedule the same each day. Horses tend to really stress out and get impatient when they cannot eat. Stress seems to make the weight drop off the horses back. Something I don't like to happen!

Here are some tips to stick to your feed schedule when you need someone less familiar to your horses feeding schedule feed for you. You know, a replacement for when you want to have a life outside the barn.

Have the horses feed amounts listed on the stall door.
Have the horses feed amounts also listed in the area where you keep the feed.
Place a scale by your hay to weigh the flakes of hay.

One flake of hay could be super heavy, and one could be super light. It works best even for yourself to weigh the flakes of hay to be sure you are feeding the same amount each time.

If you will only be missing one or two feedings you can ration each horses feed into a bucket ahead of time. To be sure the correct horse gets fed the correct bucket place the horses name on the individual bucket. Or, you can have a different color for each horse. Just be sure and mark the horses stall with his color. It is also wise to have the horses name on the stall as well. I always like to color coordinate each horse. Lead ropes, halters, saddle pads, boots, blankets, brushes. Whatever you can coordinate helps keep the confusion to a minimum.

I use the 2 gallon fortiflex buckets to put in the pre-made feeds. Just be sure to keep them covered. I like to use plastic disposable shower caps. They are cheap and can be used many times. They close up the buckets keeping the food safe from flies. Be sure and keep the food safe from a horse that could escape and eat all the feed! I actually have hooks on the outside of the stall, and can hang the buckets when necessary for the next feeding. I like to keep it simple. If you are going to do this, it is extremely important that you be sure the horse is safely locked in his stall. I always walk the barn isle before I leave to make sure every door is locked. I also train everyone else that comes to the barn to do the same. We all police each other.

Weighing the grain is also an option if you would like to be more precise in your measurements. There are many scales to choose from, you can place your fortiflex bucket on a scale, measure and pour. Just be sure to account for the weight of the bucket.

Scale scoops are also a great invention. They are quicker easier to use.

Have supplements in separate containers or plastic baggies rationing out the portion for each individual feeding. You can write the horses name and feeding AM or PM with a sharpie on the plastic bag. If you are feeding a liquid supplement, you can use a squeeze water bottle to have your replacement add the supplement directly to the horses feed. If it is for more than one feeding, using that trusty sharpie, you can draw lines on the bottle so that the supplement can be accurately measured.

One other important thing to consider, always have emergency numbers posted in the barn. Farrier, vet, horse owners, and in case you cannot be contacted a secondary emergency contact.

Being prepared, you can comfortably leave the barn in someone else's hands knowing things are being done exactly the way you like them.

*This is not a paid post. These are actual products I use or have used to make my life easier, featured solely for the benefit of my readers.


Matt Jenkins said...

I have to admit our feed schedule can vary by up to 2 hours morning and evening. However, our horses always have free choice hay, except when they eat it all in their stall if they are in for bad weather.

We now prepare the next feeding in advance every time we feed, at least with grain. That way if we have problems we can call someone in and tell them to dump it in their buckets. We use plastic tupperware-like containers with their names clearly written on both sides of the container and sit them away from the stalls on a shelf/stand.

Btw another thing to mention if you have to soak hay for RAO horses (we have a mare with the condition) then it is best to presoak it in advance of having someone feed for you.

Great bit of information here. By the way, have you found a quick way to weigh hay? I have a hanging scale with a hook on the bottom but it is a pain to use.

Kristine said...

Thanks for all this information! I'm a horse newbie - just trying to learn as much as I can - so this information is totally valuable. Thanks again!

Deanna said...

Hi Matt,

Since your horses have the free choice hay it shouldn't be a big deal that their grain times vary. By having the free choice hay, it is a lot more like the horses natural diet.

It sounds like you have a good system in place for the grain. It is so helpful when you are prepared isn't it?

For those of you out there unfamiliar with RAO, it is a respiratory disease that plagues some horses. RAO stands for Respiratory Airway Obstruction. That is a good tip to pre-soak the hay so you can have peace of mind when you aren't doing the feeding.

I actually use the first scale pictured in the post to weigh my hay. I got it for free from a Mini Market/Deli that went out of business. They probably have them on eBay for a decent price.

I just lay the flakes on top of it and weigh. The base isn't quite as large as a flake, but it's close enough that you can quickly and easily place a few flakes on top of the scale without them falling off. Just make sure you have a secure place for the scale. I at first didn't have a permanent place for it and it got knocked over. It's pretty rugged though because it didn't break.

Thanks for the great comment and tips!


Deanna said...

Hi Kristine,

You're welcome. I'm so glad to help. If you ever have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail and I would be glad to offer any suggestions. Thanks for reading!


EquineSpirit said...

Great post! When we grain Diago we use plastic baggies and premake a week or so worth of grain at a time (depending on how much he's getting during each feeding and what fits in the tote). It's soooo nice and convenient to just grab a bag out of the tote on our way out the door and head to the barn with it. :D And when we get to the end of the bag while making our premade baggies we know exactly how many days we have left before we're out so we can get another bag or two before we ARE out! ;)

Deanna said...

That's a good way to keep track of when you need to buy more feed Equine Spirit!

Keep the comments coming everyone, it's a great thing when we give each other tips to make our horse lives easier :)