How much hay varies. A Belgian can eat way more than an Arabian. 50 pounds a day would keep most horses in a dry lot. (No grass) If you have plenty of pasture they will graze all winter and eat way less hay. Setting the acres of pasture is impossible when you don't know how much rain you will get, and what kind of grass it is, or how fertile the ground is. To keep a horse year around, it is a lot less expensive if you have twice as much pasture as you would need to get by in summer.
How much hay in the winter depends on several things:
A) What's winter? -30 or 30?
B) How will you feed the hay? (wastage)
C) Is the horse inside or out?
D) How is the hay stored / quality?
It's true that a small bale a day, fed under low wastage conditions, can keep a "good keeper" in a dry lot in a 0 deg winter... unless it's real windy or the horse already has no fat on it. A hard keeper with little fat will need grain supplements and perhaps more hay. Any horse exposed to the elements will need more hay than one that's indoors a good portion of the time.
Here in NW MS we have five horses on 13 acres. Climate is mild, pasture is good (was a hay field before we fenced it in). We supplement with hay that is cut on our other hay field during the winter. During the summer the horses keep that 13 acres grazed to the ground. At 2.6 acres per horse it just ain't enough. We're in the process of fencing in more pasture now.
__________________ I'm running so far behind I thought I was first!
... the recommendation was 2 acres per horse. I would guess alot of it would depend on if you have grass or rocks in your pastures...
Well, let's assume that the pasture is OK. Not the best, but not full of rocks either.
You'd still need some hay to get through the winter.
Sure, during the winter you'd still need hay. So the next question is, how much?
I have 4 horses on 15 acres of good pasture in upstate NY, I don't feed hay from April to October/November, usually. I feed roughly 12.75 tons of hay per winter- I do feed free choice grass hay tho. The amount of hay you feed is variable- size of horse, how good is the hay, what the hay contains, etc...
With all of these good answers there's still a factor missing and that is are you going to use the horse? As in ride, drive or work? How much? Grass won't sustain a working animal.......
....do contact your local county extension service as they will have figures for you suitable for your soil and climate conditions. Some soil no matter how much pasture you have cannot grow grasses with suitable mineral and nutritional content to keep a horse healthy..you must add supplements. All grass is not equal.
Did you guys see the program on RFD-TV on the Rocky Mountain Horse? Wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good luck and have fun....LQ
" Live in the Sunshine,
Swim the Sea,
Drink the Wild Air"
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"There is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing." D. Duck
Having lived in the MO Ozarks there are a great many factors to this question. This question can really only be answered by a person from this region and by considering the following factors-----
How many trees? How much is cleared? How long do you want to graze each year? Is water readily available? Fencing and cross fencing? Breed of horse?
If you are in MO please list the closest town and I might be able to give you an Idea of approximately how much per horse.
I would start with just a pony or small horse for the children. The area is Izard County, Arkansas. Good water is available. There are a couple of acres of good pasture, but I would want to save that for farming/gardening, and clear some of the scraggly trees and brush to make some more pasture for grazing.
Here goes my statement about the Ozarks.
This area is very heavy on rock with VERY LITTLE topsoil which cannot both sustain trees and Grass. This why the tops of hills and the valleys are cleared just to make pastures.
Most of your good graze will not grow without proper sun light and the trees will take most of your water away from the grass you want to grow. Many of the farmers in this area year after year fight the trees back just to have pasture or grow hay.
I would reccomend about 2 to 5 acres of your property needs to be cleared and seeded for 1 year prior to putting stock on it.
This should raise enough pasture for 1 to 3 horses. BUT You will need to suplement hay during the dry season (July 1 to Sept 15) to keep from damaging the pasture.
Be aware that some of that under brush and weeds are poisonous to some livestock. Although I have seen people graze goat on the under brush to make clearing easier.
Also network and visit with the older folk down at the local feed mill to get an idea of what to spray on the tree stumps so that they don't grow back. Osage Orange is hard to remove and even harder to kill.