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by Downunder Horsemanship

How Much Hay Does Your Horse Need for Winter?

By Standlee Premium Western Forage

Winter is right around the corner, which means pastures will be dying before we know it and additional forage sources become a staple in horse diets. Are you the type of horse owner who buys what you can in late summer or fall, and then ends up having to find more mid-winter, sometimes scrambling due to the lack of availability or settling for and paying a pretty penny for subpar quality because that is all that is left? Or do you like to plan ahead and try to purchase almost all the winter forage you’ll need before winter starts?

With colder months impending, it is important to prepare for the amount of forage you need to feed your horses over these months. Conservatively, a horse should consume 1.5% of their body weight (BW) in forage per day, at a minimum. Ideally, we would like this to be closer to 2.5% of their BW*.

Let’s look at how much hay, conservatively, you may need to store to make it through winter for the following horse:

1,000-pound horse x 1.5% = 15 pounds of forage per day

We typically have approximately 5 months (~150 days) of winter/mud season that our horses need 100% of their forage requirements supplied by hay or hay alternatives, which may vary depending on your location.

15 pounds/day x 150 days = 1.13 tons

Let’s put this into perspective with some examples.

1.13 tons of forage equals:
~ 46 Standlee Compressed Bales
~ 57 bags of Standlee Premium Alfalfa Cubes
~ 25 Standlee Premium Timothy Compressed Bales and 26 bags of Standlee Premium Alfalfa/Timothy Cubes

For more examples and important considerations for figuring out your personal hay supply needs for winter, visit our website.



  • *National Research Council. 2007. Nutrient Requirements of Horses: Sixth Revised Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.