I have a 6 year old Belgian draft gelding, 16.3hands, 1700 pounds. I am new to draft horse ownership, and don’t know exactly how much to feed him. From doing some research, I know what to feed and what not to feed, but not *how much*.
“Tiny” came from a 140 acre farm, and was pasture fed (they had lots of grass in their pasture). Since we’ve had such a dry summer and fall, there is no more grass for him to munch on (we have about 5 acres of pasture), so we’ve been feeding Bermuda hay and crimped oats for the last couple months. Recently he has started acting like “starvin’ Marvin”, and goes after his hay in a bit of a frenzy as it’s put into the manger. I am concerned he is not getting enough feed?
We’re giving him about 2 flakes in the morning and 2 flakes in the evening (about 8” each time), with about a pound of oats in the evening. We are feeding Bermuda hay, which is looser in packing and lighter in weight than that of Alfalfa hay. Is there a pound-for-pound ratio for feeding, i.e., a percentage of weight of hay per his body weight (1% of hay to total body weight)?
Tiny is not skinny, but since we’ve had him (since September this year), and specifically in the last month, he has appeared to have dropped some weight – maybe as much as 75-100 pounds. He is not worked or ridden – he is just a pasture pet. He is sound and good health otherwise, and you can feel his ribs a little bit if you press on his side with your hand, but you can’t really visually see the ribs. We thought he might need to be wormed, so we tried that (although there were no visible signs of worms) but that wasn’t the problem apparently. He seems to be very happy here, and gets lots of love and attention. His eyes are bright, and he is normal acting and looking except for his acting like he is so hungry at feeding time. He is the only horse we have, so it’s not like he’s afraid another horse will take his feed.
I certainly don’t want to think I’m under-feeding him, so thought I’d ask in this forum. I’ve tried to cover the basics, but if you have pertinent questions please ask. If anyone has suggestions, or a link to where I might read up on this subject, I would very much appreciate the help.