In the February '09 issue of Horse & Rider, we examined several alternative forages that could be used to stretch or supplement your hay supply. Depending on the price of hay in your area, forage substitutes may be less or more expensive per serving than hay.
The chart in February's article provided a "cost per serving" estimate for each hay-supplement option. Here's how we arrived at the figures given:
1. Experts suggest you feed your horse 1 to 2 percent of his body weight in forage daily. For a 1,000 pound horse, 1 percent would equal 10 pounds daily.
2. For the sake of comparison, we've assumed you've replaced 25 percent of your horse's hay with a substitute, your horse weighs 1,000 pounds, and he eats 10 pounds of forage per day.
3. Each supplement in the chart comes in a 50-pound bag, and based on the information above, a serving size would be around 2.5 pounds per day. Prices in the chart range from 30 to 90 cents per 2.5-pound serving.
4. Using the same weight/serving formula we used for substitutes: If your horse weighs 1,000 pounds, and you feed him 1 percent of his body weight in hay, you'd be feeding him 10 pounds of hay daily. For a 50-pound bale ($8), you'd get five servings, which would cost you $1.60 each.
5. If you replace 25 percent of your horse's hay with a supplement, you'd be feeding 7.5 pounds of hay daily (6.5 servings per bale) or $1.23 per serving. Grand total: $1.23 per day for hay + $0.30 to 0.90 per day for substitute = $1.53 to 2.13 per day, compared to $1.60 daily for straight hay.
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