Ironically. It is the Winter Solstice today. Cheers my friends.
On all forums you hear us on, we talk a lot about homesteading and the amount of planning we are always submersed in because of it. Planning for Winter (Fall and Spring too) hay is no exception.
I will keep it short and sweet. Because it is. You know what else it is? Important! It's important to keep your stock healthy and happy during some of the most challenging months weather wise.
We can start with horses and for the sake of this converdation we will use averages but everything can be altered with some basic math! Easy.
On average a mature horse is 1,000 pounds. On average that horse should be offered/be eating around 2-3% of their bodyweight in forage/hay per day. For a horse this size that is about 16-18 pounds of hay!
You now have to take your size, the weight, of the hay bales into consideration. I have seen anything from 40-80lbs depending on the type and quality. Just guess, don't bring a bale of hay inside to weigh in your bathroom. Most feed bags are #50 so use that for reference.
We apply the same rules to our dairy goats. We will go with an easy 100 pounds for a mature Nubian, it is however a bit more than that but again this is just basic math! Adjust accordingly. Each goat should be eating the same about 2% of their bodyweight in hay per day, so that means each goat should be eating 2 pounds of hay per day. It becomes a tad trickier with our smaller animals, fortunately most of the time you have a few (or more) and so you can calculate the herd total per day to make it easier. Just watch the lowest goat in the herd to make sure the eating is even.
It is really that easy.
Once you have down how many pounds per day you will feed to your crew, you know the rough estimate of the weight of the bales you buy (or bale), lastly you have to add up the days you feed hay and that is how you can calculate how many bales you will need for the hay season!
The benefit of this is not just monetary, but for storage and peace of mind.
Cheers you all.