1. Maximise Pasture by rotating and strip grazing.
Look at dividing your paddocks, particularly if you have large paddocks. If you have a small amount of land, like I do, you can still divide your paddocks by creating different sections and closing them off when they are over eaten.A good idea too, is to allow access to a walking track and a quiet, resting area to that horses move and then rest in places that aren’t full of grass. With small properties make sure you pick up your manure and don’t harrow. Removing the manure regularly will allow the ground to recover more quickly.

2. Look for potential spelling options in your local area.
If you have noticed vacant land, with no stock on it in your local area, why not approach the owners and see if they may be interested in leasing you a paddock or space?Offer a weekly payment to the land owner that you can afford this will encourage him or her to take up your offer. Often, a cost per horse of around $25 a week for access to fresh pasture can be much cheaper than feeding hay in an overgrazed paddock.An extra tip is to check insurance requirements in case of damage, and also ensure that you have a simple but formal agreement.And of course, ensure that you offer to pay for any damage done by your horse.Having an internal, portable electric system can help with this.

3. Try and purchase hay off the farm.
If you can be lucky enough to find hay advertised locally straight from the farm, this is a very economical way to buy it.If there is a minimum delivery or pick up, ask friends to pool together.Opt for the most recent season’s hay and shedded if possible.If you buy hay that is weathered, then inspect the inside layers if possible.You are looking for a sweet smell and a lack of dust and spores.Generally a round bale of hay is equivalent to 10-15 square bales so factor that in when pricing up hay.

4. Slow down!Try a slow feed net/bin to reduce wastage and increase hay life.
If you are lucky enough to have access to round bales invest in a slow hay feeding net which you can secure safely over the round bale, this not only slows your horse’s chewing down but also lowers wastage. If you don’t have access to a round bale then invest in large hay nets with small holes, or a slow feed bin.This is particularly useful for those managing easy keepers as you can use Lucerne and not have them eat it all before it touches the ground!

5. Position your food on the ground.
Remember horses are grazing animals and it is very important to place feed bins and hay feeders either on the ground or low down. Locating feeders up to chest height or even higher interferes with the normal digestive process. Placing feeders high does not allow the horse to chew and grind his feed normally.If the horse is not digesting its feed properly, they are also not going to be utilising it properly.

6. Roughage, roughage, roughage!
Horses require a high level of roughage (pasture, hay) per day to ensure a healthy digestive system. This can be predominantly pasture hay and some Lucerne, which has the advantage of being low in starch and sugars. Starving your horse of roughage can cause any number of issues, the worst being ulcers or colic.Particularly those on sandy soils, ensuring your horse has adequate roughage is vital for digestive, and overall health.

7. Supplementation for maximisation.
Due to the drought and lack of feed in most parts of Australia feeding a daily supplement will actually pay for itself in the long run by making sure your horses receive the correct daily nutrient intake with a balanced diet.Make sure you access a trusted source and products that deliver, are safe, natural and easy to feed and offer support and advice so you can choose the right product for your horse.

8. Choosing your feeds.
A simple non complicated diet is essential for the health of your horse. Feeding longer chop chaffs, some grains such as oats or even steamed and rolled barley, mixing your own or using a high fibre, high quality compressed pellet, is not only healthy but economical too.Feeds, such as steamed and compressed long stem fibre pellets are a great option as they slow the chewing process down and this is a great thing for digestion.

9. Talk to a qualified nutritionist.
If you want to gain the most out of your feed rations and ensure you are not doubling up or feeding the wrong feed to your horse, contacting a qualified nutritionist is essential.Many offer free advice, and even better, a diet plan to assist in managing horses through all conditions, on all budgets.Equine nutritionists only want to see your horse looking healthy and to ensure you aren’t spending money you needn’t be.

10. Keep an eye on horses in your neighborhood.
While not a money saving tip, we urge you to keep an eye on horses in your neighborhood. As we enter a winter with far less hay available than usual, and after a long summer with barely any rain.If you see a horse looking underweight, offer helpful advice, even this blog or Hi Form’s office number (03 9775 6422) so that the owners can seek advice to reverse the situation.No one wants to feel judged or feel as though they aren’t capable of looking after their own horse.But sometimes it is very hard to take that first step and admit you are struggling.We all love horses and we all want them to be happy and healthy, and for their owners to not feel overwhelmed.So, be there to support and keep an eye on horses in your area.

For more information, tips or to have a chat about your horse’s diet heading into winter, please feel free to phone us or email us.03 97756422 or 1300HIFORM free diet analysis or ask one of our equine nutritionists directly