Sunday, November 21, 2010

New duds for the boys

Saga and Red's new turnout sheets came in this week. They fit pretty well, and I like the cut, which is pretty much exactly like the Rambo cut.

Red looks pretty cute in his new navy and red sheet. All it needs is a big white star and he could be the Texas flag! (KIDDING!)

I am not as excited about Saga's teal with "lemon" trim outfit. (The trim is really more of a chartreuse. Ick.) I could have gotten it in java with brick trim, but I would have had to wait for another month for it to come in. Whatever, he'll survive in this.

Remember when blankets came in hunter with navy, maroon with gray trim, or navy with gray trim, and that was it? So many choices nowadays...

Friday, November 19, 2010

We need all the help we can get

Saga tends to be very helpful when we're working out in the pasture. He likes to supervise.

Last weekend, he helped us repair a hole in the roof of the shed (we had to replace 2 panels).

Be sure to get that roof panel on straight... you need to move it a little to the left!

And he made sure we correctly fixed a couple of pieces of loose trim on the shed door.

Are you making sure that loose metal trim is well attached? We wouldn't want any sharp bits sticking out!

Saga didn't get to supervise on this project since it was inside the feed shed. We put up a quick blanket rack with a 2x4 and some blocks of wood - not pretty, but definitely functional!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Red loves alfalfa, probably more than Saga does. Of course, he only gets a handful or two of alfalfa per day, while Saga gets an entire flake morning and night.

I keep my alfalfa in hay bags, mostly because it makes a mess whenever you pull off a flake. When I'm done with the bale, Red gets the leftovers.

Today, I was moving two new bales of alfalfa to the back shed, and Red decided he didn't want to wait till the bag was empty to get his share.

Ooooh! Could it be... a fresh bag of alfalfa?!?!

Mine! Mine! All mine!

Naturally, Red is starving. Just ask him about it - he'll probably forget to mention the entire pound of carrots that MC fed him when she came out to ride him today...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feeding the boys: Part V

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet or an equine nutritionist. This information is purely based on research I have done myself. Please do not mistake my research for actual advice on what to feed your horse. I'm just sharing my experiences so that other horse owners can have the information.

This is the fifth in a series on how I'm determining what to feed my two horses. For Part IV, visit here.

In the last installment, we figured out how much hay and concentrates, in pounds, I was actually feeding the boys. Here's the recap:
  • Saga was getting 15 lbs of forage and 9 lbs of concentrates (Purina Ultium), or a total of 24 lbs per day. That's within the range of 16.5 and 27.5 lbs that he's supposed to get, but it's an awful lot of concentrates. Plus, he still looked ribby, and his feet seemed to be increasingly sore on the Ultium.
  • Red was getting 15 lbs of forage and perhaps 1/2 lb of concentrates (Nutrena Lite Balance) daily. So he's well within the 13.5 to 22.5 lb range that we calculated for him, if a little on the low end. Red was in good weight, but he tied up after our last hunt. Is he selenium and/or vitamin E deficient, like the vet suggested?
Now it's time to get down-and-dirty with the math regarding how much vitamins and minerals the boys were actually getting, and how much they are supposed to be getting. Since there are a lot of nutrients in feed (my current count is 34), I'm going to concentrate on calculating some key values as examples.

Let's start with calculating non-structured carbohydrates, or NSCs. This is the combination of sugars and starches in a feed. Sugars, and therefore NSCs, are known triggers for laminitis -which is why you're not supposed to let horses graze on sugar-rich spring grasses. "Metabolic" horses, i.e. those with Cushings, are recommended to have no more than 12% NSCs in their diets (again, your mileage may vary depending on your source). Some non-horses appear to be more susceptible to increased amounts of sugars in their diet - for example, some barefoot horses can become "footy" within hours or days of having additional NSCs in their diets. Since Saga has been off-and-on footy, I was curious if the amount of NSCs in his diet might be causing some issues. However, I wasn't sure how much he was getting.

To calculate the total NSCs in your horse's diet, you need to add up all the NSC values for all the different concentrates and forages he's getting. Some feed companies post the NSC value of their feed right on their web site. Others you have to dig for online - and sometimes the numbers you find aren't consistent. If it's not on your feed bag label or on the company's web site, call the company and ask.

  • The reported NSC value for Purina Ultium is 16% (reference: COTH forum)
  • The average NSC value for Bermuda grass (coastal) hay is 13.2% (reference: equi-analytical). Ideally, I'd have my hay tested, but since I have not yet done so, we'll go with the average value.
To calculate the total NSCs your horse is getting, you first need to calculate how many pounds of NSCs your horse is getting for each feed source. Since NSCs are reported as percentages, to calculate pounds, you need to multiply the pounds of feed by the percentage of NSCs. Then you add the pounds of NSCs together and divide by the total amount of feed (in lbs) they're getting. Here are the calculations for Saga:

  • (9 lbs of Ultium) x (.16) = 1.44 lbs NSCs from Ultium

  • (15 lbs of Bermuda hay) x (.132) = 1.98 lbs NSCs from Bermuda hay

  • (1.44 lbs + 1.98 lbs) / 24 lbs = 14.25% total NSCs
So, Saga wasn't getting huge amounts of NSCs, but certainly there's room for improvement. In addition, I read the label on the Ultium bag carefully, and for a horse in moderate work (remember, Saga is in light work), he should be getting about 6.5 lbs of grain per day. I was over-feeding by 2.5 lbs per day, and he was still ribby. Eeek! I needed to cut back on the Ultium and change something else.

For Red, my main concern was that he might be Selenium and/or Vitamin E deficient, causing him to tie up. So, I needed to calculate the amount of these nutrients in his diet. Here are the calculations for Red:

  • Nutrena Lite Balance has 1 ppm (that's 1 part per million) of Selenium per pound of feed (reference: Nutrena web site).
  • Bermuda hay has no Selenium (reference: equi-analytical).
Since Red was getting approximately 1/2 lb of Lite Balance per day, that means he was getting .5 ppm of selenium per day.

Now the question is, how much Selenium does Red actually need? According to the book "Equine Nutrition and Feeding" by David Frape, a horse in light work needs 0.002 mg/kg BW/day. Let's decipher what this means:
  • milligrams (mg) = parts per million (ppm). So, 1 mg = 1 ppm
  • kg/BW/day is "kilograms of body weight per day". This means you need to convert the number of pounds your horse weighs to kilos. In Red's case, he weighs about 900 lbs, and 1 lb = .454 kg, so Red weighs 408.24 kg. I'll round up to 410 for easier math.
Now, we need to determine how much Selenium he needs based on his body weight by multiplying the number of mg by his body weight in kg:
  • 0.002 mg x 410 kg = 0.82 mg/selenium/day
We've already figured out that he's getting .5 mg (remember, ppm = mg, so .5 ppm = .5 mg) per day from his feed, so he's .32 mg/day short. That's nearly a third less Selenium than he needs!

Vitamin E
Now, let's do the same calculation for Vitamin E, since Vitamin E deficiency is another cause of tying up.

At 1/2 lb of Lite Balance per day, Red was getting 125 IU of Vitamin E per day.

How much Vitamin E should he be getting per day? Equine Nutrition and Feeding says 1.6 mg/kg BW/day. Doing the math, we get:
  • 410 kg x 1.6 mg = 656 mg Vitamin E per day
But wait, our units are off again! We need to convert IU to mg.

IU are "international units," or the measure of effect of a substance (reference: Wikipedia [yeah, Wikipedia, I know. Shoot me later.]) . The conversion factor for IU to mg is different for each type of vitamin. For Vitamin E, you divide the number of IU by 1.10* to get the number of mg. So Red was getting:
  • (125 IU/day) / 1.10 = 113.6 mg/day
YIKES! He's supposed to be getting 656 mg/day, so he's WAY low!

Since Red was low on both Vitamin E and Selenium, the vet's recommendation to add a supplement to his feed was probably a good one. If only I'd done the math beforehand, I'd have known this was a problem!

Feeding recommendations
One thing I realized as I started to read feed tags is that I was not feeding either concentrate within the recommended feeding levels. Nutrena recommends feeding Lite Balance at a rate of 0.25 to 0.5 lb (kg) per 100 lb. body weight (reference: Nutrena). If I had been feeding Red in the recommended quantities (2.25 to 5 lbs per day for a 900 lb horse), he would have had no problem getting the amount of Vitamin E and Selenium he needed.

HOWEVER, it's important to note that even when you feed in the recommended doses, your horse may be getting too much or not enough of something. For example, Saga needs 1 ppm of selenium/day (0.002 mg x 500 kg). If he had gotten the recommended 6.5 lbs of Ultium per day, he would have gotten 3.25 ppm of Selenium/day (Ultium has 0.5 ppm MINIMUM per pound of feed). I was feeding 9 lbs of Ultium per day, which is 4.5 ppm/day. Either dose is way too much! In fact, a little research on selenium toxicity in horses shows that the maximum a horse should ingest per day is 3 mg, and more than 5 mg/day can result in a horse that is "lame, loses weight easily and has a dull coat." HOLY CRAP! Saga was definitely footy on the Ultium, and he wasn't gaining weight. Maybe this was due to getting too much Selenium instead of getting too much NSCs? Since I didn't do a blood test, I'll never know, and he's no longer getting Ultium. Even so, it's a scary thought.

Now let me be clear - I am not disparaging either feed. It is my own fault for not reading the feed labels and following them. It is my own fault for not doing the math and understanding the possible consequences of feeding too much or too little to my horses. This is why being educated about feeds is so very important.

Next steps
I realize that my over-analytical self has probably gone overboard on all the math for feeds, and we only calculated a few key nutrients for our horses! There are lots of other things to looks at - fat, protein, calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper, manganese... and the list goes on. Since this post has already gotten so long, I'll wait till next time to discuss other nutrients I was concerned about, including protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorous. I'll also be posting the list of nutrients that I've accumulated along with the recommended doses for each nutrient from several different sources. That way you can do your own calculations for all these details.

And then... I have to figure out what to feed the boys!

* Ok, kidding, it's not that simple. It depends on if it's natural Vitamin E or synthetic, and what type of Vitamin E it is. See this page for more info. The ingredient list for Lite Balance says "Vitamin E supplement," so I don't know what kind of Vitamin E it is, but I guessed that it was d-alpha-Tocopherol. If someone else has better information, please let me know.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A bit of grooming assistance

This weekend, MC was out to ride Reddums. She also kindly spent some time grooming Saga, since I was working on the house and couldn't go for a ride.

First, she groomed him and gave him a good vacuuming.

Clearly, Saga hates this.

Then, she washed and conditioned his tail, combed it out, braided it, and put it in a tail bag. We're trying to do something to salvage his rather pathetic tail, and this was her suggestion. We'll see how it looks in a couple of months!

It's really wonderful to have someone you trust come out and help look after the boys. Thanks, MC, for all the help!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Feeding the boys, Part IV

This is the fourth in a series on how I'm determining what to feed my two horses. For Part III, visit here.

In the last installment, we'd figured how how much feed, in pounds, the boys were supposed to get. Here's the quick recap:
  • Saga should get between 16.5 and 27.5 lbs of feed per day, with no more than 11 lbs of concentrates.
  • Red should get between 13.5 and 22.5 lbs of feed per day, with no more than 9 lbs of concentrates.
The next step is to figure out how much the boys were actually getting. Since I didn't have a scale for the feed room, and my kitchen scale was too small (only goes up to 2 lbs), I dragged our bathroom scale out to the feed room. I weighed myself, then picked up whatever I was weighing, and weighed myself again. Here's what I figured out:
  • A scoop of Purina Ultium weighs about 3 lbs.
  • A scoop of Triple Crown Light or Nutrena Lite Balance weighs about 2 lbs.
  • A decent-sized flake of Bermuda grass hay weighs about 3 lbs. However, small flakes can weigh as little as 1.5 lbs.
  • A decent-sized flake of alfalfa weighs about 5 lbs. Alfalfa weight did vary widely - I had one densely-packed bale and one that was much less dense. You need to be careful if you're feeding by volume instead of weight.
So, at the time, Saga was getting:
  • 1 flake Bermuda 2x daily, plus 3 flakes at bedtime (15 lbs Bermuda)
  • 1.5 scoops of Ultium 2x daily (9 lbs concentrates)
  • 2 scoops BOSS 2x daily (maybe 0.2 lbs)
  • Daily Strongid wormer (negligible weight)
  • 24/7 pasturage (but it's quite poor as we haven't had any rain)
Based on our math above, Saga was getting 15 lbs of forage and 9 lbs of concentrates, or a total of 24 lbs per day. That's well within the range of 16.5 and 27.5 lbs that he's supposed to get, but it's an awful lot of concentrates. Plus, he still looked ribby, and his feet seemed to be increasingly sore on the Ultium. What's a horse to do?

Red was getting:
  • 1 flake of Bermuda 2x daily, plus 3 flakes at bedtime (15 lbs Bermuda)
  • 1 cup of Nutrena Lite Balance 2x daily
  • Daily Strongid wormer
  • 24/7 pasturage (but it's quite poor as we haven't had any rain)
Based on this math, Red was getting 15 lbs of forage and perhaps 1/2 lb of concentrates daily. So he's well within the 13.5 to 22.5 lb range that we calculated for him, if a little on the low end. Red was in good weight, but he tied up. Possible mineral deficiency?

So, now we know exactly how much feed the boys were getting. How much is your horse getting? If you haven't already gone and weighted your feed and hay, you should do it now. In the next installment, we'll look a feed tags and do some math on vitamins and minerals. Grab your calculators!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My fantasy barn

Someday - hopefully sooner rather than later - we'll get around to building our barn. And while I wish I could have one of those beautiful places with 14x14 stalls, varnished wood doors, and wrought iron bars, that's really not how I keep the boys. Let's face it - what's best for horses is for them to be out 24/7, and if that's not possible, then at least they should get as much movement as possible. Keeping them bundled up in stalls isn't good for them, and it's sure a pain for me when it comes to mucking! Sure, I need a place so I can feed them separately and/or a way to keep them in if someone gets hurt, but otherwise, they really just need a place to get out of the weather in the winter and out of the sun and bugs in the summer.

So, I will end up with a glorified run-in shed with a tack room, hay storage, and a nice spot for grooming. But within that area... muahahaha.... I can go hog wild! I'm talking about things like a wood-paneled tackroom, a rubber-brick grooming pad, and... well, a horsey vacuum cleaner.

I know, you think I'm crazy for wanting a horsey vacuum. But the barn I boarded Cash at when we lived up in New York, Larkin' Hill Farm, had one and OMG it was awesome! You'd think the horses would be afraid of the noise, but after a brief introduction to Mr. Vacuum, all of them chilled right out. And most of them loved being groomed with it! Maybe it was like a massage, I don't know, but they would make the silliest faces when you ran the vacuum over them - most of them would really get into it.

And nothing, but nothing, makes winter grooming a fuzzy, unclipped horse easier. I don't care how much you hot towel, curry, or brush, there is no way to groom out the dirt that's deep down in the coat. With a vacuum, it's so easy it should be illegal.

At the encouragement of a "friend*" who was probably tired of listening to me whine about how hard it is to groom fuzzy horses, I checked out the local Craigslist ads for horse vacuums. I mean, really, what are the chances of someone listing a horse vacuum for sale, just when I decide to go shopping for one? Because really, I do not need a horse vacuum. I need to ride more. I need to finish the ceiling in the bathroom. But, because the stars were in alignment (or something), there it was on Craigslist - a nice, compact, Rapid-Groom vacuum for $75! SCORE!

So, I have the vacuum. I have dirty horses. Well, OK, now I have Very Clean Well-Vacuumed Horses - at least, until they roll. Now, all I need is the rest of the barn to put the vacuum in, and I'll be all set.

I know, I know. One step at a time. :)

* Thaaaanks, MC. Really.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Feeding the boys: Part III

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet or an equine nutritionist. This information is purely based on research I have done myself. Please do not mistake my research for actual advice on what to feed your horse. I'm just sharing my experiences so that other horse owners can have the information.

I started researching my feed in detail because Saga has been somewhat footy, off-and-on since I took his shoes off earlier this year. Excess sugar and non-structured carbohydrates (NSCs) are two known causes of laminitis, and low-grade laminitis seems to be the most common cause of footiness in barefoot horses. It affects shod horses too, but for various reasons* doesn't manifest in a noticeably "off" horse.

I also started researching feed because Red tied up after our last go at foxhunting. The attending vet suggested that he might be deficient in Vitamin E and Selenium, so I put Red on a supplement at the vet's recommendation. And then, somewhat belatedly, I started on my research.

If you start researching what your horse is eating, you realize very quickly that there are a lot of variables involved. How much hay, how much grain? Are you feeding alfalfa? What about supplements? How much should you be feeding of each? How much NSCs is he getting? What's the nutrient content of what your horse is eating versus what your horse is supposed to get on a daily basis? Is he getting too much? Too little? The math gets complicated quickly, and the information sources can be highly variable, so you really have to do your homework.

Over the next few posts, I'm going to break down what I've figured out for my boys, step-by-step, and provide all the calculations I've used so that you can figure it out for your horses as well. The first step is figuring out what our horses should actually be eating, in terms of weight of dry matter. Here's what Google has to say:
Taking the average of these numbers, let's say a horse should get between 1.5% and 2.5% of his body weight in total feed per day, with no more than 1.0% percent of that being a concentrate feed. (NOTE: These numbers are for horses in light work. If your horse is being ridden more, the percentages will increase.)

Red is 14.2 hh, an "easy keeper," and in light work. By light work, I mean he works 3-4 hours per week at things like trail riding, dressage, and jumping. We do some conditioning with him, but it's not too strenuous even though we hunt. Ideally I'd like for him to be better conditioned, but there's that time factor. I estimate that Red weighs 900 lbs.

According to our math, Red should get between 13.5 and 22.5 lbs of feed per day, with no more than 9 lbs of concentrates.

Saga is 16.2 hh, a "hard keeper," and also in light work. I estimate that he weighs about 1100 lbs.

According to our math, Saga should between 16.5 and 27.5 lbs of feed per day, with no more than 11 lbs of concentrates.

Your horse
To calculate how much feed your horse should be getting, here's the formulas:
  • Minimum total weight of feed = (Body weight in pounds) x 0.015
  • Maximum total weight of feed = (Body weight in pounds) x 0.025
  • Maximum total weight of concentrates = (Body weight in pounds) x 0.010
Hang on to these numbers, you'll need them later.

Coming up next...
So now we know how much in dry weight each of the boys should get, but how much are they actually getting? Your homework is to go weigh your grain, hay, and whatever else your horse gets in a day and write it all down. While you're at it, grab the tags off your feed bag and supplements, and ask your forage supplier if they test their forage, and if so, would they share that information with you. I'll be doing the same, and we'll compare notes in the next installment.

* I'll discuss these reasons in more detail in another post.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Time for a shave?

Lately I haven't been able to ride much in the evenings, so I've been trying to spend 10-15 minutes chasing the boys around the pasture so they can get some exercise. They really get into it after the first few minutes, bucking and playing with each other, trotting with high steps and flagged tails - it's fun to watch them. I can also assess how they're looking when they're not under saddle, which is especially important since Saga's been having some footiness issues of late.

Unfortunately, it's often warm in the evenings (80 degrees F last week!), and the boys have grown in their winter coats. Neither of them get very fuzzy, but in weather this warm, they sweat easily. And then they take FOREVER to dry, even though they cool down fairly quickly.

Still wet with sweat 45 minutes after his frolic in the pasture.

In fact, Saga sweats so much after very little exercise that I'm thinking about doing a Neck and Belly clip or an Irish Clip (here's a nice site that shows the different types of clips). Poor guy needs something in this heat, and I've got blankets to keep him toasty when it gets cold, as well as turnout sheets on order.

So, do you clip your horse? What clip do you prefer? And any hints on getting the lines straight?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Getting creative

Those of you who know me well know that I'm a rabid recycler and in general try to maximize reuse. I carry plastic grocery bags in my purse so that I don't have to get new ones at the store, and I've been known to drag cans and bottles hundreds of miles home from camping trips just to put them in my recycling bin. So I often look for things to do with stuff that would otherwise be thrown out to see if I can get that extra mile out of it or come up with a creative new use. Because, well, that's just fun to do!

Lately I've been looking for ways to slow down the boys' hay eating habits. You know how it is - your horse grabs a giant mouthful of the stuff (Miss Manners would be horrified!) and munches, while wisps fall to the ground. Hopefully your horse is a neat eater and vacuums up the bits afterward, but we all know this isn't always the case. Ideally, the boys would have to work for their hay and move around to get at it... but well, I'm working on that concept.

So I'd been researching ways to feed them hay that would slow them down. There are a couple of sites with slow feeder ideas, which seemed useful but expensive. I looked to see if anyone was making "hay pillows" - solid fabric bags sized to fit a flake or two, with small holes to slow consumption. Since I sew, I figured I could make some pillows with scrap fabric, or even leftover poly feed bags. And as I was searching the web for ideas, I came across How to Make a Hay Net out of Bailing Twine. Does it get any more brilliant or reusable than that?!? I've got LOADS of bailing twine, so I decided to give it a go.

I started off with 12 strings and tied them together in a big knot at the top end.

Next, I tied pairs of strings together using an overhand knot.

I continued on down, tying alternate pairs of strings together to form the diamond mesh pattern.

As I quickly discovered, if you want a small-mesh net, you need to tie your knots fairly closely together. However, this makes for a fairly narrow hay net - more like a hay tube, really. I think I would need double or even triple the number of strings to make a small-mesh net that opens wide enough to get a couple of flakes of hay in it.

So, I'm saving up more bailing twine for the next go. The boys are happy to help with the twine collecting process, diligently munching their way through the hay so I can get the twine. Kind of them, really. It's probably a good thing that they don't know the eventual outcome - they'll have to work harder for their hay thanks to the small mesh bags!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Riding with friends

A few weeks ago, Fuzzypony hauled Taran down and MC came over for a visit, and the three of us took the boys out for a trail ride.

Saga was feeling slightly uneven at the trot (but perfectly fine at the walk), so I ended up parking him in the middle of our usual riding field and taking pictures of Fuzzypony and MC. Unfortunately, the lighting was low so a lot of the pics turned out blurry, but there were a few decent ones.

Fuzzypony walks by with Taran.

MC and Red looking lovely at the trot.

Taran canters off into the sunset while Red follows. At this point, I think Saga was munching on grass as I took the pictures.

Taran canters by.

Another lovely trot moment from MC and Red. Red's such a cutie, for all that he's a midget monster.

We ended the ride with a walk down the street to see MC's "new house" at the very end of the street - OK, she's not moving in, but she sure does lust after it!

I have to say, it's pretty amazing to be able to halt your horse, let go of the reins, and take pictures while your friends canter by. Saga is such a good pony!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Feeding the boys, part II

In my last post on feeding the boys, I mentioned that I had recently switched from feeding round bales to feeding square bales, and I thought I'd share my thoughts about why I did that.

First of all, the boys were out during the day on pasture and in at night with the round bale. Red wasn't getting any grain, but he was FAT. He actually sort of looked like a round bale! Saga looked OK, but wasn't fat, even though he was getting 1 scoop of Safe-n-Sound 2x/day. So I had one horse that was too fat and another horse that wasn't quite right. By feeding square bales, I'd have more control over who got how much hay, and hopefully would be able to get Red a little more svelt and Saga a bit more plump.

Secondly, round bales are a PAIN to move. We don't have a tractor to move round bales, so we had to drive our truck to wherever we wanted the round bale and then push it out of the back of the truck. This is not something I can do by myself, so if I needed to do it while the hubby was out of town, I had to call a friend for help (thanks, Foxfire!). And while moving and stacking square bales isn't my favorite thing to do by far, I can do it.

And while we're on the subject of moving round bales, I should mention that when it rains, we can't get the truck out in the back pasture where we were dropping the bales. So I had to keep a supply of squares on hand anyway for those times when we couldn't get the round bales back there.

Now, about the cost. My feed store (which isn't the cheapest place to get hay by any means) charges $90 for a round bale and $9 for a square*. If you figure a round bale weighs roughly 1000 lbs and a square bale weighs roughly 50 lbs, it doesn't take a math genius to figure out that it costs $180 for 1000 lbs of square bales. So you'd figure that feeding round bales is about half the cost and should last twice as long, right?

Oddly enough, that doesn't seem to be the case. It is slightly more expensive to feed squares than rounds as far as I can tell (the data is still coming in on this one, and Ill share it with you when I have it all compiled). However, there is almost NO WASTE. A round bale would last me anywhere between 10 and 20 days, and perhaps 1/3 of it would be wasted - pull out, stepped on, laid on, and peed in. 20 square bales lasts me about month (I use roughly 2/3 of a bale per day) and there are literally a few wisps left, if anything - even when I feed on the ground. So for me, the real savings comes in the work I don't have to do forking and shoveling out wet, dirty, rotten hay (and man is that gross!) and the trips to the dump I don't have to make to dispose of the nastiness.

Yes, it takes me a little longer to feed since I actually have to take the stuff out of the shed and put it in a feeder - or several feeders, since I try to spread it around so the boys have to work for it. Yes, it's a bit more expensive. But for me the ease in handling, the ease in feeding, the known quantities of feed and the lack of waste and subsequent cleanup makes it well worth it!

* Note: I have since found a new hay supplier who charges $6 for a square bale, and it's a mixture of Tifton and Coastal Bermudagrass. Very nice stuff!