High quality haylage such as EuroBale will be the major source of long fibre in the horse’s daily diet and thus enough must be fed to meet the ‘roughage’ or digestible fibre requirements necessary to keep the gut moving properly.
The minimum amount of quality haylage necessary to fulfill this purpose would be 12lbs per horse per day, split into at least two feeds, with the largest amount offered at night. For example, the horse may receive 4lbs after work and 8lbs at evening stables.
However, it must be remembered that quality haylage has a higher energy level than hay and this may result in a decision to feed more than the minimum quantity to some horses – especially those horses where more corn is not desirable.
For example, a filly who runs up light, and will not eat more than say, 10lbs concentrate, could have quality haylage increased to 14 or even 16lbs, which would give more energy for weight and work, but wouldn’t give her the ‘hay belly’ appearance normally associated with increased hay intakes.
Similarly, a big backward colt being brought on slowly, and thus on a low corn ration, could have his quality haylage increased to keep his weight, but to prevent him from getting above himself in his light work.
A third example may be a horse where muscle problems occur on high corn rations. Deriving more energy from increased intakes of highly digestible quality haylage may allow the horse to be kept in work, but remain on low corn rations.
Therefore, whilst there is a minimum intake for all horses, the type of horse and the amount of corn fed will influence how much quality haylage is fed.