I'm guessing most don't weigh their hay simply because you get on a "schedule" type feeding program and never give it a second thought. Chances are you, buy the same type of hay from the same supplier every month throughout the year, expecting it to be consistent the whole time.
The truth is, it's not. There are so many different variables within the same field throughout the cutting season. Then there's the hay that is stored through winter. A good bale of hay in the spring will weigh more than the last bale that came into storage. Why? The difference is moisture.
Spring and summer cuts hold far more moisture than later cuttings. Once the hay is stored, it continues to dry and becomes lighter. The quality is not as good even if it is premium hay.
Hay also varies in the same fields due to irrigation, fertilizer, weeds and insects. One bale on one end of the field may be greener than one at the opposite end. Also a grower may have several different fields of the same hay and each one will still be a bit different.
This brings me to weighing your hay. In a previous blog, I detailed the amount of hay 1 horse needs as a bare minimum is 1% of their body weight to just stay alive. That percentage goes up when you start riding or working them more often. They use more energy and therefore need more forage. I personally feed anywhere from 20-25 Lbs of hay per day. That's roughly 2.5 - 3% of Cookies body weight. She's working more and needs more to maintain a proper weight. In the winter time I'll keep her on or close to this percentage to help her get through the colder temperatures.
Now considering all bales are not created equal, even within the same bale, I weight Cookie's rations at least once a week. The reason for this is to ensure she's getting the same amount every day and I can adjust it accordingly. This also helps me to make sure she's not going through it too fast or too slowly. 1 round bale generally weighs 1000 Lbs and lasts her 1 month.
It's easy to weigh a ration. All you need is a hay net and a fish weighing scale like in the picture. Fill your hay net, set your scale to - 1/2 lb and then weigh your hay. I set it back 1/2 lb to account for the hay net. Depending on the material the hay net is made of this may vary some. If your scale has smaller increments you can just weigh the net itself and reset the scale to 0 with the net hanging on it. Most average sized hay nets will hold up to 5 lbs of packed hay. I do mean packed. You can adjust this amount according to how much you feed per meal. If you want to see how much hay the amount is, just empty the hay net into a feeder.
Also take into consideration different types of hay have different weights also. Alfalfa will weigh more than Coastal Bermuda or Bahaia.
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