An old cowboy wandering the west with a batshit crazy dog and a fine Buckskin Mare in a Lakota LQ drug around by a tired ol' Dodge Pickup.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sunrises, sunsets... and More Horse Feed...

*Sunrise over the Chiricahaus*

A couple of folks made comments on feed for the road on the last post...

There's lots of issues dealing with horses on the road. The two most critical, to my mind being feed and water. Throwing curves at horses concerning those two things will flow out and cause a nomad unwanted difficulties.

Stability/consistency with feed is a pretty strong need. Change their groceries sudden like and the incidence of colic and other troubles goes up fast. On top of that, the need to control the spread of noxious weeds is something a responsible horseman needs to keep in mind.

A huge amount of graze is lost every year to the spread of inedible or even poisonous invasive weeds.

So... like Karen said, there are sites where certified hay producers are listed. My trouble with the hay has mostly been the nearest producer that actually has some left in his barn always seems to be a hundred miles away...

The option, like Stymie mentioned is Hay Pellets.

*Moonrise the night before over the same Chiricahua Mountains*

Right there is a big 'cultural' issue with many horsemen, that I tee totally get. I'm not one who is much for gimmicks and gadgets. I like old time ways... right up to that point when some modern creation actually is an improvement.

I fed pellets, years ago in Arizona. It was, and to large degree is still the only way you could reliably get good quality feed on the desert. A heavy % of the hay in Arizona is grown for dairies. Results in some pretty nasty forage if you try and feed that to horses.

Over time I learned there are a great number of advantages to pellets... Simply said, all things considered, hay pellets whup long stem hay pretty much on every count.

Straight off horses fed pellets have a significant reduction in the incidence of sand colic and also founder. Horses eating hay off the ground tend to suck up a lot of sand in the process, pellets pretty much eliminate that. Founder is reduced by the better nutrient 'balance' that is built into most pellets. There is a reduction in starch in many brands that contributes to a reduction of founder.

For the traveling horseman a HUGE benefit is the reduced space required. Pellets occupy about 1/2 the space required for the same weight of baled hay. In the tight confines of a trailer... A BIG plus!

...and That is a giant Convenience upgrade. Life being as tough as it needs to be all on its own, finding ways to soften the road is a valuable plus. 

 With my setup, the side compartment divided up into a pair of feed bins and two four foot boxes on the truck I can carry just about a full month of groceries for two horses... and No need for a high dollar roof rack for half as much hay...

... and the PITA of getting bales up there... and the feed back down twice a day... or ... more!

Some folks complain that pellets lead to boredom... Yeah? well... a hay eating horse that's left standing in a stall 24/7 is about six minutes less bored... and truth is, it's far easier with hay pellets to break the days feeding up from the standard twice a day... to the FOUR feeds a day that I use.

Best way to deal with boredom is... put your phone down and saddle 'em up...

Feeding as I do not only breaks up the horses day, but it puts the feed to him in a more natural volume spread across the day, rather than the heavy slugs loading up their guts of the same weight in a twice a day regime. Result? = less boredom and even greater reduction of colic and founder.

Some complain about the cost of pellets... I'd say sit down and do some calculatin'. By the time you factor in the waste reduction ( horses eat all the pellets - not shoving stems away or dropping as much as 25% on the ground as they eat to be walked into the dirt and lost.), the feed efficiency (my experience has been that a significant reduction in weight is fed due to the grinding of the feed to smaller pieces to pelletize resulting in better feed conversion), the absolute convenience, consistency and reliability of the feed all shined up by far less worry of colic... I kinda see them as cheaper, not more expensive.

The last plus ( and a big one for those like me that like to stay out in Far Country) is that although only a few brands of pellets have gone through the certification process, the Forest Service accepts (again, in my experience) most all pellets as weed free for their purposes due to the manufacturing process that destroys the vast majority, something over 98% of viable weed seeds. Pretty much equal to any certification process of baled hays.

Yep... I'm a firm believer in the benefits of feeding pellets.

*The Dragoon Mountains under a soft sunset*

Time to get back to work, spring comes fast... need to get back to forming up the battery box for my battery bank upgrade, keep on tinkering with the stone for that cistern project... and... I need to decide if  enough time has passed to check on how my Cora is doing... Trying hard to not to be a pestering owner with the guy ;)

- Brian

1 comment:

  1. Hay pellets sounds great! Sure will save on the dust created by bales. Traveling with most any animal brings along a whole set of challenges. Of course so does traveling with another human too :)