Horse Feed Considerations

Horse feed includes pasture, prepared feeds (grain and hay), pelleted feeds and protein. Additionally, horses may need salt, supplements, trace minerals and vitamins.

Feed and nutrition influence your horse’s health and longevity. Because she only has one stomach and a cecum, your horse needs to be fed so that her simple digestive system is not overwhelmed, causing a dangerous colic.

But how?

Consider her activity level. Is your horse a working horse? Or does she lead a more leisurely life? Some horses are “easy keepers”, requiring less food than a similarly active horse. A working horse needs more hay and possibly a sweet or pelleted feed, too.

Some horses benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements. Horses need minerals to maintain health. Grasses and grain contain minerals, butsupplements may be needed in your area. Consult your veterinarian or local agricultural extension for more information.

How old is your horse? Older horses may benefit from supplements. If she’s much older, she may need softer food.
Is she prone to colic? As a grazing animal, your horse’s digestive system is not geared to take in large amounts of food at one time. Download our free, four page Colic Preparedness Report for helpful information on this frighteningly common condition.

Watch her weight. Don’t overfeed your horse. Anoverweight horse is prone to a variety of equine ailments.

Ideally, rations should be weighed rather than measured. Hay bales vary in weight and grains have different weight densities. Weigh your feed mixture to see how much a standard measure of that feed weighs then calculate the volume of that specific mix to supply what your horse needs.

Water is essential for digestion and metabolism. Be sure that your horse has access to clean water. Equine water needs vary depending upon temperature, activity and condition, but the minimum is at least ten gallons per day.

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