It is a bit embarrasing to admit this, as we are professional livestock farmers, but I have had to buy in some extra hay for Swift on account of the terrible weather. The big bale of hay we are currently using is too coarse and not very palatable and I was becoming concerned that Swift was not getting enough to eat in this very hard weather, as he kept leaving a lot of the hay that was put out for him. A very kind friend with horses of her own collected some small bales yesterday from one of our local farming friends who makes good horse hay every year in June and sells a lot of hay to all the horsey folk. He will no doubt dine out on the fact that he sold hay to me too.. not very good for our credibility, however under the Stewardship Scheme we are tied into we are not allowed to cut hay or silage until after 15th July and this is not very good for horses as it is not as nourishing.
Jethro has kindly put up a hay rack on the fence so that my top notch hay will not be gobbled up by his erstwhile companions [sheep] in the field and I can also see now Swift happily munching his hay from the office window. This pleases me enormously as I feel very stuck in the house and cut off from my normally very active life.
Swift is the boss of his field and up to now any eating of ‘his’ hay could only be done when he isn’t looking or grazing, at least in the rack it will be there for him whenever he feels the need to eat. It makes me feel a whole lot better too because until I had the fracture I was bringing him in for extra hay most days to be sure he had enough and to keep handling him often as he is only young. This way I feel better knowing that he is now getting as much as he wants of the ‘good stuff’. At approx £1 a day that must be worth it for his wellbeing and my peace of mind. I am calculating 1/3 bale a day but Jethro will keep me posted on actually how much we do use, and it will depend on how much snow and frost we have..
Horses eat for about 20 – 22 hours a day. Their stomachs are small, about a 1.5 kilo capacity for feed, and their whole digestive systems are are designed for continous eating, yet as a prey animal they maintain the ability to flee at speed if danger arises and their guts fit in with this. This is completely different to a sheep or a cow who have a rumen. The rumen acts as a store for food and also in this bad weather as a central heating boiler. Swift seems warm enough in his thick quilted rug which reaches from his ears to his tail. As a Quarter Horse cross Appaloosa he does not grow a thick woolly coat like New Forest ponies do. He has also lived outdoors for all of his life and until this year he lived in Scotland, first near Aberdeen and then in Dumfries, and he will certainly have experienced hard winters before.