Calling all Fatties - Restricted Turnout may not be the Solution

Since summer is now in full swing I've turned out the four horses full time. I finally get to have some sort of a lie on at the weekends - Horray! :D While having the horses out full time is a bit of a blessing I also have to keep an eye on them as they are all good doers and literally balloon overnight.

I've tried everything to monitor their weight. I want them to live out for a few months as I like them "to be horses" (and it's less work for me!l) but I don't want to risk laminitis or them getting super fat.

One method I was thinking of trying was restricting turnout - in at night and out during the day. I was googling online about peoples opinions and experiences of doing this and ended up being linked to an article  written by researchers at North Carolina State University.

They observed that horses who lived out 24/7 were more relaxed and ate at a slower place and took time to rest and relax with their field mates. This is in contrast to those who were stabled with adlib hay and allowed restricted turnout. These were entirely focused on eating grass and tended to keep their head down the entire time and spent no time interacting with other horses.

Their experiment was then repeated with varying turnout lengths. They concluded that an average 500 kg horse will consume the following amounts of grass dry matter (It is worth noting that the horses had constant access to hay while they were in ... so it isn't a case of they were really hungry before they were turned out) -

24 hours turnout : 0.35 kg/hr
9 hours turnout : 0.6 kg/hr
6 hours turnout : 0.75 kg/hr
3 hours turnout : 1.0 kg/hr

The less time you allow for turnout, the more excited your horse will be to have access to fresh grass. This in turn results in them eating nearly 3 times faster than if he was turned out 24/7!

Restricting turnout and bringing in at night just seems like a lot of work to me so I'm kinda of delited that this method isn't very successful. I guess I'm either going to have to look into grazing muzzles or upping the exercise sessions. The latter seems like a better idea with much more benefits :)

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