Feeding hay on box rest

Mary Poppins

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Ben is now on week 2 of box rest and he seems to have 2 moods. He is either wired and on high alert, or he is really grumpy. His most exciting part of the day is understandably when I arrive with fresh hay. He gets this 3 times per day. At 6am, lunchtime (between 12pm and 2pm) and then at 8pm.

As he has arthritis in his back, I am very keen for him to eat from the floor in a natural position, rather than in haynets. However, he scoffs his hay from the floor like there is no tomorrow. It is quite remarkable how quickly he eats it. The hay is soaked for between 6 to 8 hours so most of the sugar should have been removed from it. He gets 2 big haynets at night (the hay is emptied from the haynet and put on the floor), and one big haynet each at 6am and 12pm. However, when I arrive at lunchtime and the evening, there is no hay left and he is obviously hungry. From today I have therefore doubled this ration so he is getting 2 haynets at each visit.

Does it sound excessive for a horse to eat 6 haynets of hay per day? It seems a very large quantity of hay to me. It is all well soaked and he has it wet. He is pooing for England and his digestive system seems to be working well. I have never had him on strict box rest before so it's hard to gauge what is a 'normal' amount of hay to consume. Any thoughts?
 

Kite_Rider

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No idea on the amount of hay, but if he hasn't got shoes on now, you could try using some baling twine to tie the nets into a 'ball' and leave them on the floor? That way he can't scoff it all down in five minutes flat but he's having his hay in a more 'natural' way.
 

Mary Poppins

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No idea on the amount of hay, but if he hasn't got shoes on now, you could try using some baling twine to tie the nets into a 'ball' and leave them on the floor? That way he can't scoff it all down in five minutes flat but he's having his hay in a more 'natural' way.

I have thought of that, but I worry that he will get frustrated and start to mess around with it. He is supposed to be staying as still as possible and still has six sets of stiches in his incision points while we wait for the blood to clot so I don't want to do anything to promote movement. I just want him to stand as still as possible. I do have a treat ball for him, but he can't have that until he has the stiches out either.
 

Jessey

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My track is pretty much grass free so most of their diet is what I provide though summer. I currently put out 2 hay nets (4-5kg each and double netted) and 1 small portion of haylage (3kg) twice a day for 1 and 2 half's ;) they are 860kg combined weight so this is a bit above the recommended 2% to maintain weight but personally I would always prefer they are eating non stop and specifically buy low nutrient hay so that they can have a bit more. They will all 'keep' on a big haylage portion (6-8kg) twice a day but they spend 20 hours a day (2 x 10 hour blocks) with nothing to eat and current research says being left over 5 hours without anything is detrimental. When the beast from the east came through I put a 5+ft round bale out for Jess for my own ease, estimated to weight about 360kgs, she ate the lot in 10 days :eek:

Realistically the only result of over feeding forage is more poop and eventually weight gain, as long as you can mitigate the latter you won't do any harm by keeping him content with lots of hay.
 

Mary Poppins

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My track is pretty much grass free so most of their diet is what I provide though summer. I currently put out 2 hay nets (4-5kg each and double netted) and 1 small portion of haylage (3kg) twice a day for 1 and 2 half's ;) they are 860kg combined weight so this is a bit above the recommended 2% to maintain weight but personally I would always prefer they are eating non stop and specifically buy low nutrient hay so that they can have a bit more. They will all 'keep' on a big haylage portion (6-8kg) twice a day but they spend 20 hours a day (2 x 10 hour blocks) with nothing to eat and current research says being left over 5 hours without anything is detrimental. When the beast from the east came through I put a 5+ft round bale out for Jess for my own ease, estimated to weight about 360kgs, she ate the lot in 10 days :eek:

Realistically the only result of over feeding forage is more poop and eventually weight gain, as long as you can mitigate the latter you won't do any harm by keeping him content with lots of hay.

Weight gain is an issue as he is obviously not burning any calories by moving, but I agree that keeping him content has got to take priority just now. I have caught him crib biting a few times when he ran out of food, and it is obvious that he is finding box rest difficult. I don't know the nutritional content of our hay, it is made off our own land which has good ex-dairy grazing so I suspect that it is pretty good quality. It would be interesting to find out. I hope that by soaking the hay for 8 hours, most of the sugar would have been drained away anyway.
 

mystiquemalaika

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If you go for a 2-3" size haylage net he shouldn't get too frustrated with it and have a ring fitted lower down the wall so you tie it at floor level but he can't be then chucking it around. I would offer part of the ration loose to let him fill up quickly and part in a floor net to then hopefully nibble on. I have always also used fodder bricks. They are 1kg and halleys do a Timothy hay and oat straw one for good doers. I add this to the daily ration. Just another form of fibre in a slower eating rate capacity.
As for amount. Unless on a very strict weight loss as long as they aren't gaining weight I'd rather give more and keep them eating. My Shetland who in theory only need about 5kg total forage was fine on 9kg when it was mainly made up of soaked hay.
 
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mystiquemalaika

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Oh and also speedi beet is a great fibre filler. Soak it then rinse it again removes next to all sugar and it a nice filling fibre feed in a bucket.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Since you don't want him moving if not necessary, I think hay balls are a bad idea. I used them for Ziggy this time, but he is box rested in a shelter which has a bed area and a feeding area (separated by a sleeper) so I didn't have to worry about him getting his hay in the poo. I agree with installing a ring low down (40-60 cm from the floor) so that you can tie a haynet on the floor. The amount of soaking you are doing there will be very little nutritional value left in the hay, so I would have thought you could feed as much as he wants really.

For overnight, I use a haynet I bought when I first got Ziggy. It is HUGE - it will easily hold 4 slices of hay - and has really small holes. It keeps him going for hours and hours. One of these might make him happier at night.

The first few weeks after an incision are really anxious, I well remember after Ziggy's colic operation how worried I was by every drip, swelling and oedema. But time will pass!
 
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Mary Poppins

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If you go for a 2-3" size haylage net he shouldn't get too frustrated with it and have a ring fitted lower down the wall so you tie it at floor level but he can't be then chucking it around. I would offer part of the ration loose to let him fill up quickly and part in a floor net to then hopefully nibble on. I have always also used fodder bricks. They are 1kg and halleys do a Timothy hay and oat straw one for good doers. I add this to the daily ration. Just another form of fibre in a slower eating rate capacity.
As for amount. Unless on a very strict weight loss as long as they are painting weight I'd rather give more and keep them eating. My Shetland who in theory only need about 5kg total forage was fine on 9kg when it was mainly made up of soaked hay.

Thank you. I like the idea of putting some of his hay in a net and some of it loose, but I fear I will just worry myself insane if I put a lower ring in because I would worry about him catching his feet in it. I will look into fodder bricks. I don't think I have seen them before.
 

Mary Poppins

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Oh and also speedi beet is a great fibre filler. Soak it then rinse it again removes next to all sugar and it a nice filling fibre feed in a bucket.
He has speedibeat twice a day for his supplements and medication. I only give him a small amount though. I wonder if increasing this might help fill him up? I think that in my head I see it as 'hard feed' and that should be limited, but it is something to look into and might help him stop feeling so hungry.
 

mystiquemalaika

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Aslong as he doesn't have shoes on and the holes are no bigger than 3" it really shouldn't be a problem I've been tying nets like this for years with bare feet only though. I cut the string on the net so it is just 1 long piece rather than a loop and quick release knot it. You then don't have a string loop they can get a leg through if that make sense? I often tie them to the bottom of fence posts like this in the field. I can get photos later to show what I mean if it helps.

These are the blocks and the cheapest place to get this type of block.

http://halleysfeeds.co.uk/ocart_halleysfeeds/index.php?route=product/product&path=84&product_id=61
 
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Mary Poppins

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Since you don't want him moving if not necessary, I think hay balls are a bad idea. I used them for Ziggy this time, but he is box rested in a shelter which has a bed area and a feeding area (separated by a sleeper) so I didn't have to worry about him getting his hay in the poo. I agree with installing a ring low down (40-60 cm from the floor) so that you can tie a haynet on the floor. The amount of soaking you are doing there will be very little nutritional value left in the hay, so I would have thought you could feed as much as he wants really.

For overnight, I use a haynet I bought when I first got Ziggy. It is HUGE - it will easily hold 4 slices of hay - and has really small holes. It keeps him going for hours and hours. One of these might make him happier at night.

The first few weeks after an incision are really anxious, I well remember after Ziggy's colic operation how worried I was by every drip, swelling and oedema. But time will pass!

The worry is something else! He has to have two very quiet and controlled 5 minute walks per day. This is to prevent him seizing up from his arthritis and to keep his gut moving. Those 5 minutes are the longest part of my day as the surgeon said that these walks are necessary, but he is not allowed to make any sudden movements as it could ruin his recovery. So I have to do a full scan of the yard to make sure nothing will spook him, ask everyone to keep still and not turnout or bring in their horses for 5 minutes, and walk round talking in a very low and calm voice the whole time. So far, he has been really good as he has learnt he gets an apple when he returns to his stable. If he looks like his attention is going away from me, I show him the apple and he becomes fixated on this and ignores what else is going on. It is just so stressful though and I worry about him constantly.
 

Jessey

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Weight gain is an issue as he is obviously not burning any calories by moving, but I agree that keeping him content has got to take priority just now. I have caught him crib biting a few times when he ran out of food, and it is obvious that he is finding box rest difficult. I don't know the nutritional content of our hay, it is made off our own land which has good ex-dairy grazing so I suspect that it is pretty good quality. It would be interesting to find out. I hope that by soaking the hay for 8 hours, most of the sugar would have been drained away anyway.
You can get a basic test done quickly for about 15 quid which gives you starch/sugar content, that might give you a good basis on if you need to soak and how effective your soaking is :)

If Ben eats anything like Jess I would be dubious of even low nets, she picks them up and swings them around :rolleyes: if its just for the first 2 weeks I'd be more inclined to give him plenty of 'celery' type forage to keep him calm and quiet without too much weight gain and rethink after the initial critical period is over :)
 
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Mary Poppins

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Aslong as he doesn't have shoes on and the holes are no bigger than 3" it really shouldn't be a problem I've been tying nets like this for years with bare feet only though. I cut the string on the net so it is just 1 long piece rather than a loop and quick release knot it. You then don't have a string loop they can get a leg through if that make sense? I often tie them to the bottom of fence posts like this in the field. I can get photos later to show what I mean if it helps.

These are the blocks and the cheapest place to get this type of block.

http://halleysfeeds.co.uk/ocart_halleysfeeds/index.php?route=product/product&path=84&product_id=61

I will get some of those blocks, thank you.

It would be interesting to see a photo of the haynets tied down low in the fields. This is not something that I have been before.
 
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Mary Poppins

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You can get a basic test done quickly for about 15 quid which gives you starch/sugar content, that might give you a good basis on if you need to soak and how effective your soaking is :)

If Ben eats anything like Jess I would be dubious of even low nets, she picks them up and swings them around :rolleyes: if its just for the first 2 weeks I'd be more inclined to give him plenty of 'celery' type forage to keep him calm and quiet without too much weight gain and rethink after the initial critical period is over :)

My worry is that he will become frustrated with the nets. When I used to give him haynets before he was on box rest, he would attack them with quite some force. They never lasted long because he would rip holes in them all. I don't actually think I have any haynets left without holes in them.
 
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Skib

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Our RS changed from nets to feeding from the floor. Hay is thrown down in one corner and when it is finished, it is finished till next feed. Most horses are kept on straw and may nose about in the straw for food, or eat their beds. In the livery yard where I helped and horses were kept in, (some on box rest) there were 4 feeds in 24 hours and when it was gone it was gone.
Stabled horses were not usually expected to have food all the time - in WW1 soldiers were supposed to remove the nose bags and haynets when a horse had finished the food and they seem to have been fed only 3 times a day. Which I guess is still the norm in many riding schools today.
I am not saying it is ideal to keep a horse boxed - but in some cases it is still the norm - as it is in London.
 
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Trewsers

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Oh and also speedi beet is a great fibre filler. Soak it then rinse it again removes next to all sugar and it a nice filling fibre feed in a bucket.

Yes!!! We use it for Storm, it's super and she loves it! Though the others seem to take or leave it? And of course she might get sick of it too. @Mary Poppins I think it's good for adding variety to ease their boredom.
 
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Trewsers

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As already suggested the fodder bricks are good too. I've been buying them for Storm - along with Munch blocks. There's a good selection of herbs etc in those too and they do last a while.
 
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