When do you start feeding ad lib hay/bringing in?


Well-Known Member
Oct 15, 2010
So, the weather has turned and I am rapidly heading towards my first winter as a horse owner :ninja::skull:

I know it depends on loads of factors, but generally what time of year do you start feeding ad lib hay/stop your restricted grazing if living out, or start bringing in?

There are three in my 9 acre field which we have sectioned in half, they all seem to be holding their weight quite nicely, not obese, but no hat racks either.

I would like to hold out as long as possible with opening up the other half of the field, and same with feeding haylage. I suspect the field getting churned up will be the limiting factor with keeping them sectioned off.


Equine Karaoke Queen
Apr 15, 2012
The horses come in at the end of October most of the time over this way. It is usually at the farmers discretion depending on the ground! Personally I've never had to feed hay out in the field (except when we moved yards as her isolation fieldmate got massive nets and it wouldn't have been fair for her not to get anything) and Rubic just got the same amount of hay (or a bit more if soaked) overnight as she would do if she came in during summer. Being a fat cob, she never needed adlib hay... if anything I still had to watch her weight but used the winter to help her lose some weight.

It is your first winter - play it by ear. Get a weight tape and check him every so often (I suggest that as sometimes I find if you see your horse every day you don't notice slight changes, the weight tape is a good measure).

ETA if you think he is a good doer and he has a bit of weight to lose then I wouldn't rush with the hay etc as if you start too soon you'll feed even more than what he might need when the weather gets bad through guilt! I know I rugged Rubic up more than she really needed because I let other people make me feel guilty for her shivering a bit!!! Rubic is getting a rainsheet when she is out at the most and will be getting the lightest stable rug I have on for the very, very cold nights!
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Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
Our lot never get ad-lib hay or haylage. They get fed if there is snow on the ground, or the weather has been foul for more than a week. We try not to start feeding before 1st January. If they are losing weight we will put haylage out. We just take each group of horses in the park they are in and assess them on a group by group, individual by individual basis.

Mary Poppins

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2004
Visit site
Ben lives out in winter and last year him and his field mate got a big pile of hay every night from about December to February. It wasn't ad lib, but enough to keep them busy for most of the night when the field was full of mud. In the daytime he came in for a few hours to much on a haynet while the rest of the horses got haylage in the field. Ben gets too fat on haylage so I need to limit this.


Well-Known Member
Oct 15, 2010
Weight tape....good idea!

He's not fat, but he's also not skinny. I am quite happy with his weight considering he is going into winter and will be living out.

Since you lot haven't seen him for a while....awful photo and he actually looks skinnier than he is. This was him yesterday afternoon, one of the only naked ponies on the yard.


Active Member
Dec 30, 2006
Winter makes no difference to me.

Mine get a token feed all year round to put meds/vits in. I don't feed for energy so nothing changes.

I don't hay unless there is snow that makes it too hard for them to get to the grass.


Mine are out all year round you will no when they need hay as they will start looking for it when the grass is not enough. In November time I put the whole big Basil out under cover and the go to under their own demands they also get some hard feed. Like others have said get a could weigh tape. Mine loose a good bit of weight over winter but they soon put it back on come spring. There is no exact time as they are all different living under different climatic conditions


Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
On an island
I have only given ours some hay once or twice, there is usually plenty of grass about and foggage. I will play it by ear, if we get lots of really cast iron frosts and the grass is really stingy then I might put a few slices out. I will see how their weight goes - they look like they could manage for a long while..........they seem to store it up like a pair of camels.................:giggle:


Well-Known Member
Mar 2, 2006
Usually manage to hold off giving daily Haynets until middle of October...will just see how it pans out with the weather and if they lose weight


Well-Known Member
Sep 14, 2009
Well ours will be in at night come the beginning of October and then I will put hay out for Tobes.

Unless like Wally, you have access to vast tranches of ground (albeit not good grazing, but grazing), I would think most people on livery set ups would feed hay adlib during the winter, herds allowing.

When it was just friend and I renting a little yard, we rented more grass than we needed. It wasn't good grass, it was slightly better than moorland, and we didn't need to feed hay unless they were in.

Not so much for the calorific value, but more for the fact that they need proper levels of fibre, and on small paddocks, they don't get it.


Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
On an island
Will somebody please tell my grass to stop growing and go somewhere else?! I need more sheep on it. Got the highland cattle munching too, but they seem to prefer congregating outside my frontdoor - hilarious as they're eating next door's bushes over the wall....hahahahaa

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
Perthshire, Scotland
We are slowly extending out our leccy fence at the moment and will buy in some hay at the start of November but if last year is anything to go by, it was snowing and they still wouldn't touch the hay until mid December. We don't give adlib hay, they get two feeds of hay a day dec - march and have adlib straw available to them to munch on.


Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2008
Our lot never get ad-lib hay or haylage. They get fed if there is snow on the ground, or the weather has been foul for more than a week. We try not to start feeding before 1st January. If they are losing weight we will put haylage out. We just take each group of horses in the park they are in and assess them on a group by group, individual by individual basis.

This, my yard doesn't start to think about hay until January. The tbs most likely won't get their rugs until November or December. As I am on the yard I just fit in, mine is a plump currently good doer anyway.
We don't see snow.
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lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
New Zealand
Ours get hay when they've eaten all the grass, and since we've got mountains of grass at the moment I don't see that happening for a while!


Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2012
I'm not quite sure why everyone else on the yard has rugged up their horses already but I'm holding off for a bit longer, it was still 16 degrees today when the sun came out after all! I dont clip but will prob put him in a lw in a few weeks depending on the weather (usually when its below about 8 and wet and windy)

They normally have to come in at night October ish, yard rules sadly, if it was me he'd be out till late November or year round if not insanely muddy


New Member
Mar 23, 2012
Gateway to europe
I don't have any hard an fast rules.

The weather and grass are different every year, so it depends.

I tend to watch the weather, watch the grass, count the :poop:

Every day I assess how they are, changes in mood or behaviour, how they look etc and change things accordingly.

It has turned quite chilly here so if we have very heavy rain the rugs go on as they have not yet got their full winter coats. I have also moved Evie to a more sheltered field at night. Cherie is in every night any way.

We still have tons of grass so I am not feeding hay in the field yet.

I have stopped restricting food. I am letting them put on a few pounds ready for winter. I like them to go into winter with a bit of extra coverage in case the weather gets very harsh, which it sometimes does.

We are rugging the finer bred older horses at night already.


Well-Known Member
May 22, 2008
East Yorkshire
we have an 1/2 a flap a day each going into Charlie and Acorns restricted paddocks, mainly just to put something in to help with the Autumn flush, it might not look as though its there but it is - they are both keeping their required weight - we were just looking at the paddock set up this morning, we will be changing the electric around at the weekend , this will open up
the restricted paddocks taking it from 3 to 2 and give us 1 smaller paddock where we can strip graze them both into managing them as we are now - by end of October I would expect Acorn to be in with the girls and turned away for the Winter, Charlie will get his opened up to a bigger area at which time he will start getting more Hay. the other 3 won't get Hay until there is either a covering of snow or the winter field can't support them fully - it would be lovely to be able to stick Charlie in with the others unfortunately the boys are beggers for play fighting which usually results in injury.

As for bringing in - depends on conditions, but the 2 mares will be out 24/7
if it goes to form Acorn and Charlie will prob be in Jan/Feb - ideally would like them to stay out - we will play it as it comes.
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