There is a serious hay shortage here. The price has gone up $50 a ton in the last month or so, with suppliers running out and no hay expected until June. You can find hay with alfalfa, but the plain old grass hay is getting hard to find.
Your horse should get 1-3% of its body weight each day in roughage with 1% being the minimum. But there ARE alternatives to hay. Here are the minimums for each of my horses:
Santana-900lbs min 9lbs/day
Tesoro-750 lbs min 7.5lbs/day
I have 1/2 a ton and I am buying another 3 tons. If I was feeding at the above rate, I would feed 34.5lbs of hay each day, lasting me 6.76 months (200 days). My current rate of feeding only gets me to April 15th (not through June), so here is my plan to make that hay last that long:
1. Ration and weigh hay. I have had a lot of irregularities with the size of my flakes and since I don't feed, sometimes the horses get too much. Three of the four horses I am feeding are prone to wasting (one will eat anything), so I am going to weigh the hay and set it out for the people feeding. To supplement the roughage/forage part I will put straw in the feeders (I serve hay on the ground). .
2. Add hay pellets and beet pulp to their diets. Precious gets a high fiber, high fat grain already, so I don't want to add too much grain, but more beet pulp should work (hope she eats it).
3. Give them maximum exposure to pasture in the spring. Our pastures don't really produce much, but I will start leaving my horses out at night in the spring for more opportunity to get roughage.
4. Supplement with alfalfa if I must. I don't like feeding my horses alfalfa (personal preference for the behavior of the horse).
5. Leave blankets on a little longer this year. I hate keeping the horses blanketed, but I need them to use as little energy as possible staying warm. That burns less hay.
I am hoping that I will be able to buy additional hay if I need it, but this is my plan in case there is none to be found.
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension
Washington State University Extension
Alabama Cooperative Extension (do you sense a trend here?)