How Much Hay Do Horses Eat

Hay is regarded as one of the main, staple meals for horses all around the world. How much hay does a horse consume, though? Horses eat a variety of foods, including grain, oats, grass, and different candies (carrots, apples, horse biscuits, peppermints, etc.), but hay is the food they are most commonly associated with. Feeding hay, however, might not be as easy as it seems.


We’ll talk about how much hay a horse needs each day in this article. Although there isn’t a straightforward answer to this, we’ll talk about how a horse’s lifestyle, size, and age can all have an impact on how much hay they should be eating every day!

A Horse’s Lifestyle

The amount of hay a horse consumes each day depends, as it always does, on their lifestyle.  The lifestyle of a horse is one of the main variables that affect it. Each horse has a different routine and timetable.


For instance, some horses get access to the outside 24 hours a day, while others are just given an hour or two. Some horses are pastured on grass, whereas others reside in climes where this is not a practical choice. Horses are known for eating hay, but hay is not the only kind of “forage” they may consume. Forage, sometimes known as “roughage,” makes up the majority of a horse’s diet. But fodder comes in many varieties rather than just hay.


Forage for horses can also be obtained from the grass. Therefore, horses with continuous access to grass might not require as much hay. Similarly, horses without access to grass might need extra hay. Although it is ideal, most climates and areas do not always have access to a balanced combination of both. The precise amount of hay a horse requires will depend on a number of other variables, but when figuring out how much exposure to grass your horse has, it’s critical to take this into account.

Horse Size

The amount of food a horse consumes is entirely determined by its size. The quantity of grain, oats, hay, or any other feed that a horse has access to falls under this. The amount of food depends on the needs of the horse; some need to lose weight, others need to gain weight, and still others are trying to keep their weight the same.


Fortunately, there are a lot of tools that can guide you in figuring out how much food your horse needs according to its size. First and foremost, get the advice of your veterinarian, the manager of your barn, trainer, or other knowledgeable resource you have access to. There are internet tools available if you’re still unsure of the appropriate amount. For instance, there are “Horse Feeding Calculators” that calculate the appropriate amount of food a horse should consume based on their lifestyle and weight.


The Kentucky Equine Research Institute has also produced a helpful table that calculates the percentage of fodder that a horse should consume based on its size and age. For instance, performance horses are listed separately from weanlings and pregnant mares.


Ponies require various quantities of hay from sporthorses, sporthorses require different quantities of hay from draft horses, pregnant mares require different quantities of hay from draft horses, and so on. Another key element for aiding your horse’s weight increase or loss is access to hay. Your horse’s “size” is altered by weight loss or gain even though his height or “type” per se never changes.Consider a horse that regularly receives 4 flakes of hay each day but loses weight during the winter. To assist your horse maintain a healthy weight over the winter, you might want to increase the amount of flake he consumes. Although your horse doesn’t vary in height or “type” per se, weight gain or loss has an impact on his “size.”


The majority of the horses at my stable are considered performance horses and receive roughly three flakes of hay twice daily, have daily access to hay and grass outside, and have an average turnout of eight hours. So, six flakes in all, plus full access to hay and grass for eight hours. They also consume any treats their owners bring, along with two meals of grain and nutrients. These horses are working out virtually every day. This is typical of horses used for performance. Less hay may be required by horses that are retired from work or who only work once or twice per week. Similar to humans, horses require fewer calories when their metabolism slows down.


Horses should consume 1.5–2.5% of their body weight in fodder each day on average. Therefore, this may be anywhere between 15 and 25 pounds of hay and grass each day for a horse weighing 1,000 pounds. This might be a useful starting point for figuring out how much hay your horse needs, though the split of the two forages will again depend on how much access to grass pasture your horse has.


It’s impossible to say how much hay any given horse needs to consume every day. The amount of hay each horse needs everyday will entirely depend on their size, health, way of life, and other factors.


Always seek advice from your manager, trainer, or veterinarian while making these choices. Additionally, make use of resources like the forage table from the Kentucky Equine Research Institute and a horse feed calculator.