How Much Does It Cost to Feed a Horse?

If you’re planning to buy horses, you probably already know how much you’re willing and able to spend on an equine companion. But the purchase price is just one part of the cost of a horse. In fact, the cost of owning a horse can range dramatically depending on the breed, age and disposition of your horse, where you live, where you plan to keep the horse and what type of work you plan to do with the horse.

How much does it cost to feed a horse per month?

The Cost of Owning a Horse: Feed, Maintenance and Healthcare Needs. Most horse owners spend about $60 to $100 per month on hay, salt and supplements – and some spend much more, particularly if they feed grain.

How much does it cost to feed a horse per week?

Small square bales can vary in weight, but the grass ones are often around 40-50 pounds each. If you do some quick math and assume you’re getting about 45 pounds of hay per bale, then your average horse will eat a little over 3 bales per week.

How much does it cost to keep a horse per month?

Caring for a horse can cost anywhere between $200 to $325 per month – an annual average of $3,876, according to finance consulting site Money Crashers. Some of these costs include: Grain/feed. Hay.

Are you planning to buy or adopt a horse? Considering the cost of keeping and feeding is essential in making this critical decision because it involves a life-long commitment. And as people often say, its not the horse that is expensive. Its what comes after. Furthermore, estimating the average cost of feeding a horse is a bit tricky because it may vary by region and season. But in this article, we will provide a guide on the costing to help you gain insight into the real cost of feeding a horse.

If youve spent any length of time around horses, you know they absolutely love food and love eating. They spend most of their time on pasture munching away a whopping 16 to 20 hours a day. And if theyre stalled, theyll always be ready for a bite to eat. Near-constant consumption of forage is important to keeping a healthy horse digestive system so there can be quite the sticker shock when you first dive into equine ownership.

My secret trick is that I have a wonderful, large pasture that supplies more than enough forage for a big chunk of the year. If you dont maintain the pasture you have it can quickly become overrun with weeds and the amount of nutrients the horses get will drop considerably.

Pregnant or nursing mares blow through a lot of calories and may struggle to consume enough to maintain their body condition particularly during lactation. Growing foals , and horses that are doing more strenuous work, may also require supplemental feed to make sure theyre getting enough calories to burn and nutrients to keep their bodies in tip top shape. Many manufacturers even make complete diets, which contain all of the forage that a horse needs in a convenient pellet shape.

Horses with bad teeth now have an option to stay fat and sassy since you can soak these diets and make a delicious, easy-to-eat mash. While you should avoid overfeeding your horse no matter their age, a complete feed can help keep your senior in good condition. These horses can stand there eating luxury-quality hay all day and night and still be skinny, so an extra boost is required to keep their body condition up.

Some lucky horse owners only need to give a handful a day to convince them to eat their supplements. Of course, other people are maxing out the amount of concentrate a horse can safely consume in order to keep them from looking like a skeleton. Some are said to boost hoof health, others are calming, some protect the joints, others improve digestion, and help with respiratory issues.

Using our example mare again she gets a really nice senior supplement that supports her skin, coat, hooves, joints, and tummy. While a supplement might be just the thing you need, make sure to rule out any medical issues if there was a sudden change in your horse. In winter you may need to heat the water a bit to keep it from freezing and to help your horse to drink more.

Boarding in general can help save feed money since large barns can buy hay in bulk. When your feed bill is getting a bit extreme you can try to find a cheaper type of hay and provide a supplement to cover the nutrition change. Check it for mold, weeds, and other contaminants, because the vet bills from bad hay can really mess with your budget.

You should also avoid trying to skimp on hay quantity to save money, because horses can develop ulcers and behavioral issues. Saving money isnt worth your horse suffering from colic or starting to chew wood or even crib. Youll be better off budgeting more for hay and taking money from something else, like the 50 saddle pads a month you expect to buy (ha!

If you chose to feed a concentrate, follow the manufacturers directions and adjust amounts as needed to maintain a good body condition. The hay you choose should be clean, smell nice, and be free of mold, dust, weeds, and other contaminants. It is one of the most important things to consider when deciding on whether or not you can afford a horse , though, because good nutrition is the foundation for health and happiness.

Water

Hay is one of the most important parts of your horse’s diet. It can be tempting to feed more grain in an effort to use less hay, but a horse really needs all that long-stem forage to stay healthy and happy. There are many different species of grass and legume on the market, and they all have their own pros and cons.The cost of hay depends entirely on where you live and who you buy from. In areas where hay is commonly grown you can spend as little as $5 per bale, but if you travel to areas where hay needs to be trucked in you could easily spend $19 for the same bale. Certain types of hay also may be unavailable unless you purchase it in another region and pay to have it delivered.If you’re trying to figure out how much hay you need to feed your horse, there is a quick and easy rule-of-thumb to follow.Small square bales can vary in weight, but the grass ones are often around 40-50 pounds each.If you do some quick math and assume you’re getting about 45 pounds of hay per bale, then your average horse will eat a little over 3 bales per week. That’s a little over 12 bales per month. How much will that run you? If you can get nice, horse-quality hay for $5 a bale you’ll be paying almost $60 a month, but if you have to pay $19 a bale it’ll run you $228 a month. Yikes.We can use my mare as an example. She’s a 28-year-old mare that weighs about 1,000 pounds. She has some dental problems due to age, so I feed her some really nice, soft orchardgrass hay. Oh, and we live in North Carolina.I pay $12 a bale, delivered and stacked because I’m lazy, and they weigh around 45 pounds each. She costs about $5 a day in hay, or $140 a month. My secret trick is that I have a wonderful, large pasture that supplies more than enough forage for a big chunk of the year. I only end up needing to purchase hay roughly from November through March. Due to this pasture, I only need to spend $750 a year for her hay, instead of $1,800.This does not include the cost of pasture maintenance, however. To keep a pasture in excellent condition you need to repair the fence, mow and trim around posts, cross-fence to control grazing zones, have the soil tested, and apply lime and fertilizer as needed. If you don’t maintain the pasture you have it can quickly become overrun with weeds and the amount of nutrients the horses get will drop considerably. If this happens, you may need to buy hay all year despite having a pasture.

Frequently Asked Questions

No matter what your situation is, you don’t want to overpay to feed your horse.A well-maintained pasture can supply a large chunk of your horse’s nutrition, perhaps even all of it. If you board, you might look into pasture-board where they supply a round bale as needed. Boarding in general can help save feed money since large barns can buy hay in bulk.Of course, this brings us to the idea of buying in bulk. While it requires a lot more money up front, it can help reduce your overall feed costs. Trying to buy a few bales of hay at a time will cost you more per pound than if you can buy the whole truckload. Many feed stores also offer discounts if you buy a whole pallet of feed.Supplement companies often offer deals if you buy in bulk or sign up for a subscription. Planning ahead is a great way to stick to a budget, since you can be on the lookout for a deal.If you live somewhere that does not have good pasture and hay is hard to find, you may really struggle to keep the costs from getting out of hand, though. When your feed bill is getting a bit extreme you can try to find a cheaper type of hay and provide a supplement to cover the nutrition change.Even if the hay is less expensive, it should still be horse-quality and safe. Check it for mold, weeds, and other contaminants, because the vet bills from bad hay can really mess with your budget. And no one wants to make their horse sick.You should also avoid trying to skimp on hay quantity to save money, because horses can develop ulcers and behavioral issues. Saving money isn’t worth your horse suffering from colic or starting to chew wood or even crib. You’ll be better off budgeting more for hay and taking money from something else, like the 50 saddle pads a month you expect to buy (ha!).

Which hay is best for horses?

Horses need good, horse-quality hay. They are more sensitive than other livestock, so not all hay is safe for them. The hay you choose should be clean, smell nice, and be free of mold, dust, weeds, and other contaminants. The species in the hay varies, but most horse hay is grass, like orchard or timothy. You may also use coastal, Kentucky bluegrass, or fescue depending on where you live. You also may feed a legume hay, like alfalfa or clover, depending on your horse’s nutritional needs.Learn more about different types of hay.

What supplements does my horse need?

Your horse may or may not need supplements. A high-quality, well-balanced diet is perfectly adequate for most horses, but if they are lacking in certain minerals you may need to supplement. You may also choose to find a supplement to help your horse’s mood or stress response, support joint health due to their activity, or support their skin and immune response if they’re sensitive to bug bites.