I have two horses. One is an easy to keep welsh mountain pony gelding, 9 years old and the other is a hard to keep TB with weak hooves. I am very tight financially and need to make the feed dollars I have really stretch. Does anybody have any good ideas? I have just added BOSS to their feed to replace the much more expensive purina amplify. Coastal hay goes for 7.00$ a 40lb bale here. Big Rolls are a little cheaper but I have no way of handling them. I also have a very tiny farm, meaning no effective grazing.
(Nora, United States)
The best way I've found to make my feed dollars stretch is to use a ration balancer and good quality hay as the base of my feed program.
A ration balancer is essentially a multi-vitamin for your horse...it will provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals your horse needs, and also includes amino acids (the reason protein is important in the diet).
Ration balancers are usually fed at the rate of 1 pound per day, so even though the bag is going to cost more at the feed store (usually around $20 or so), it is going to last much longer than other feeds usually do.
For your TB, if you need extra calories in his diet, you can increase his hay intake (ideally offering as much as he will eat), or add more BOSS, some rice bran, beet pulp, or alfalfa cubes/pellets. Of all these options, increasing his hay is probably going to be most cost-effective, depending on how much more of it he will eat. If he won't eat enough hay to keep the weight on, you'll have to go to a more concentrated form of calories (any of the other choices)...costs for those vary by area, so you'll have to check prices locally to figure out which would be most cost-effective for you.
His weak hooves and being a hard-keeper may be caused by a lack of nutrition in his diet (you don't mention any other feeds besides the BOSS, so I am working on the assumption that they only receive BOSS and hay), so you may find that both those issues resolve when he is put on a ration balancer, which would further lower your feed bill by allowing you to decrease the BOSS you are giving him.
Thanks for a great horse nutrition question!