Horse won’t eat hay! help...

Joined
19 January 2019
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33
Hi everyone!
so, i own this appendix gelding who has pretty bad ulcers. he would buck, take off ect.
we switched his food to alfalfa for lunch, and an all hay diet (bermuda the remainder for the day and hand grazing as often as possible) and he’s doing so much better and never does any of the above anymore.
he gained a lot of weight (before he was a little skinny).
However, now he’s refusing to eat his bermuda!!
He’s loosing weight and often has a lot of hay left, while my other guy (different stall) eats everything by the time they get fed again.
Is this nothing to be concerned about? (it’s getting summer and i know some horses dislike eating when the weather is inconsistent)
Or is it a bigger problem? i’m a little concerned because of his weight loss, but he’s always been hard to keep wait on.

His food schedule is 2 flakes of bermuda in the morning, 2 flakes of alfalfa at lunch and 2 flakes of bermuda at night.
(first he got 1 flakes of alfalfa and 1 flake of bermuda at lunch but we upped his ‘dosage’ because he was loosing weight but it hasn’t helped much)

PLEASE PLEASE help. I honestly have no idea what to do!
 

Shay

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17 August 2008
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Some bermuda hay is left too long and becomes too fiberous. Horses often won't eat hay with more than 65% NDF (A type of fibre) - although I note your other horse eats up well. But if horse 1 has any teeth problems an increase in fibers in the bermuda might just make it to difficult for him. Can you source Timothy or increase the alfafa for a while? Also get the teeth checked.
 
Joined
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Some bermuda hay is left too long and becomes too fiberous. Horses often won't eat hay with more than 65% NDF (A type of fibre) - although I note your other horse eats up well. But if horse 1 has any teeth problems an increase in fibers in the bermuda might just make it to difficult for him. Can you source Timothy or increase the alfafa for a while? Also get the teeth checked.
thank you so much!! i will definitely get his teeth checked again, would you think that increasing his food to timothy or alfalfa would make it so he doesn’t like(?) the bermuda?
 

Shay

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Yes its possible. Bermuda is less tasty (in human terms - who knows with horses!) - at least it is more fibrous, less soft and smells less sweet to us. So if he isn't really hungry he may well leave the bermuda and wait for the more tasty stuff coming later. But in not eating for that period there is also a risk that his ulcers will flare up again, as well as the weight loss. I'm not personally a massive fan of feeding only alfalfa hay (although my experience of this system was in SA not the USA) but if that is all you can source then that might be what you need to do. If you can't source timothy what about hay replacer? Is that available to you at all?
 
Joined
19 January 2019
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Yes its possible. Bermuda is less tasty (in human terms - who knows with horses!) - at least it is more fibrous, less soft and smells less sweet to us. So if he isn't really hungry he may well leave the bermuda and wait for the more tasty stuff coming later. But in not eating for that period there is also a risk that his ulcers will flare up again, as well as the weight loss. I'm not personally a massive fan of feeding only alfalfa hay (although my experience of this system was in SA not the USA) but if that is all you can source then that might be what you need to do. If you can't source timothy what about hay replacer? Is that available to you at all?
I was debating changing his food to half alfalfa and half bermuda to see if that would have an impact
we tried to put him on grain/pellets but he hated it and it made him get more cranky and pissed off all the time...he’s a handful😂 he won’t even eat hay pellets or anything like that just because he doesn’t like them. (also accepts nothing but carrots and honeydew...)
also thank u so much for your help.
 

ycbm

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30 January 2015
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18,808
If he is losing weight then I would feed him whatever he will eat. Is there any problem with feeding only alfalfa hay? I'd probably want to add a forage balancer if that's all he gets.
 
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If he is losing weight then I would feed him whatever he will eat. Is there any problem with feeding only alfalfa hay? I'd probably want to add a forage balancer if that's all he gets.
there’s no problem with feeding only alfalfa. I’d probably want to try half alfalfa have bermuda first to see if it helps.
Also i wondered about a forage balancer but it’s kind of unclear to me what it is...
All i know is that it’s a low starch grain
However he gets kind of cranky off grain and won’t eat most of it so i wasn’t sure
 

ycbm

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Balancers in this country aren't grain, they are a mix of all the vitamins and minerals a horse should be getting and can have other things depending on what the horse's needs are, gut protection, proteins and amino acids, for examples. They are very expensive per bag but you only feed a little. I would always give one to a horse which has no grazing and restricted variety in its diet.
 
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Balancers on this country aren't grain, they are a mix of all the vitamins and minerals a horse should be getting and can have other things depending on what the guess needs are, gut protection, proteins and amino acids, for examples. They are very expensive per bag but you only feed a little. I would always give one to a horse which has no grazing and restricted variety in its diet.
That actually sounds, amazing!
What kind of balancer would you recommend? (also thank you for helping!)
Would if only be needed if he was on only alfalfa? or would you still give it to a horse on bermuda and alfalfa?
Here in california, horses sadly don’t really get the opportunity to graze a lot (thank god for handgrazing at my barn!!) however i have not ever heard of a balancer
 

ycbm

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30 January 2015
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18,808
You need to find out what balancers are sold in your country and contact the company advisor. The two brands I have pointed to are huge in this country and might also operate in yours.

I don't feed a balancer myself because I'm lucky enough to have horses out on old mixed pasture and fed mixed meadow haylage.
 
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