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How much feed per day for a working cow horse?

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Ranchero

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1. How much alfalfa lbs./day should be fed to a 1000 lb working cow horse?

2. How much alfalfa should be fed if supplemented with 3 lbs. rolled oats & corn?
 

Faster horses

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My advice would be not to feed straight alfalfa to a horse and NO CORN.
Alfalfa/corn combination is pretty hot for a horse unless maybe a race horse. And then it still causes problems, IMO.


Straight oats, mineral supplement and grass hay will keep your horse living a long, healthy life. Oats won't make them fat, but it will make them hard, so they don't sweat very easily.

If there is grazing available, or you feed some grass hay, you can supplement with some alfalfa, but they don't need much. Alfalfa can cause colic fairly easily.

And don't forget the water. Horses need a lot of water, especially if they are fed hay. 1000# horse, 25 to 30 lbs. total feed is what I think is correct. 2.5-3% of body weight.

This is how we feed our horses and they live to a ripe old age.
 

theHiredMansWife

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When our boys are putting in full days' work, for weeks on end, we feed loose hay (on the ground since one of our older horses develops a nasty hay cough if fed in a ring), free choice.
We usually feed grass/alfalfa hay just because they seem to lose condition on grass hay alone...
And for us, grain is purely a treat/reward after a long day. If they get half a coffee can, they're really lucky.
 

Faster horses

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I guess I should have said "good grass hay". We get our hay tested and know what is in it. A combination of alfalfa grass is good as well, more grass than alfalfa. There has been some work published that shows horses fed straight alfalfa also get arthritis more than horses fed grass hay. Something to do with calcium deposits created by the alfalfa.

Oats fed everyday won't make most horses hot or nervous. It is adding corn, barley, molasses that makes them hot. Oats make them strong. We don't grain our horses unless we are using them, but then they get grained every day. We started this fall using a supplement from Progressive Nutrition and the horses look awesome. We have some younger horses we are feeding it to. It only takes 2# per head per day. Some horse trainers from Texas were here at Christmas and they couldn't believe the hair coat on those northern young horses. They do look good. It isn't hot feed either and is designed so one formula is fed with grass hay and the other formula fed with alfalfa hay. This feed actually changes the muscle pattern of the horses and they fill out so nicely.
 

PPRM

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I like grass or grass alfalfa hay, but mainly grass....

The grains have energy in them. In the feedlot I worked, occasionally a new horse would start getting tired and some of the older guys would add Red Cell which had a lot of Iron and some minerals/vitamins. After a week they'd get on and at coffee, exclaim, "Holy Smokes, he's ready to be taken off of that Red Cell!" I am not here as a proponent of Red Cell, but to say that using horses need to have good mineral and vitamin package.....

We fed oats in the lot, but I know corn has more energy....Some of the horses may have been able to use a tiny bit of corn, but I emphasize, feed way less than you would oats....

We feed our idle horses Purina Ultium. It is high in fat. We feed less than two cups a day of it....Reason????? Makes them dang easy to catch, LOL....I feed so little as it doesn't make them fat, but I will say, give them a high fat grain and the flavor will be something they can't resist....They are on free choice clean bluegrass straw ( they get thier fill, can't founder and don't chew on stuff) with a small flake of grass/Alfalfa hay, the ultium and Horse guard mineral pellets. If they weren't idle, I would replace grass straw with Alfalfa/grass and adjust the grain in accordance to how hard I was using them. You adjust by condition and attitude....

I will say one reason I like Ultium is also if I have to mix a powdered medicine or pain killer for an injured horse, I want that horse to be familiar with molasses flavor and like it. I have had horses on oats that never got a molasses feed and they will turn thier noses up for awhile.


I must be bored, LOL, I talked bunches, but really never addressed the original question in full.....I'd start with FH's recommendation, but also a good vitamin mineral pellet for your area to mix in. Then go up or down according to attitude and condition,

PPRM
 

righter

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Funny how things are different in different places. My stepdad always fed his horses straight corn that he had cracked. He lives in the deep South and that was what he could get for a little of nothing. And all his horses also lived to ripe old ages. But no one ever fed alfalfa, it was a scary thing because it made a horse get 'winded' too easy!
In answer to the OP, from memory, a 1000- lb. mature horse that is working needs 15,620 calories to maintain himself.
IMO, when you are where you can get a commercial feed, the best advice is to get one, read the directions, follow them, and watch your animals. If they start getting fat, feed less. If they can't maintain themselves, feed more. This can run into some serious money if you have a lot of animals, but it may be the best plan if you have only a few.
If you aren't where you can get a commercial feed, it is a fairly simple thing to build and balance your own ration using a feed book and a calculator. That way you can include protein, energy, vitamins, salt and minerals that are available in your area.
Even Danforth (Started Purina Mills) began by mixing mule feed with a shovel in the corner of the barn.
 

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