Horses are Herbivores that are ALWAYS Hungry
Horses in nature will graze 20 out of 24 hours of the day. Moving around from place to place. They eat plants and especially grass and herbs. Horses have very small stomachs compared to their size and intestinal track. Horses cannot regurgitate or vomit. What goes in the mouth must come out the other end!
Because of this the horse’s digestive system is fairly delicate. Colic or stomach aches account for a large percentage of deaths.
Therefore we need to compensate for this.
This brings us to:
If your horse is not hungry then he or she is sick
Of course there are the rare finicky eaters that evade this rational.
In nature horses are fairly passive physically and move slowly picking and choosing the grasses and herbs that are available to them. In a man made environment we tend to increase their physical activity and decrease the number of hours that they have access to grass.
Our horses need to be fed roughage and concentrates
Our horses need to be fed roughage (grasses or bulk) and concentrates ( grains and supplements). Adding succulents such as carrots and apples is icing on the cake!
For horses turned out to pasture or horses kept at pasture it is wise to know about poisonous plants.
Every horse is an individual
Find what type of hay is available locally
Also locate your feed store and compare prices and brands. (Purina feeds vs. Omolene Feeds etc.)
Concentrates are grains such as bran, oats, barley and foods such as corn, beet pulp and molasses.
Welcome to the 21st century ……Or Read the label! Today concentrates come bagged in cube form or coarse mixes and are ready to be fed. They are made from a variety of ingredients to provide a balance diet including some essentials vitamins and minerals.
This takes a lot of the guesswork out of feeding the concentrate.
There are hundreds of different brands and choices along with thousands of supplements.
Want a handy feeding guide to post in your feed room?
We talked about getting into a routine for feeding at a certain time. It is also important to stay consistent with what you feed each horse. I like to hang this feeding chart in the grain room ….for an easy reference guide and quick memory refresher. It also is indispensable when you have someone else feeding for you.
|№1||Feed at the same time each day.|
|№2||Feed little and often. This is the way horses eat in nature.|
|№3||Feed no more than 2 pounds of concentrates at a time. Divide the ration into 2 or 3 feedings a day.|
|№4||Feed concentrates before hay or roughage.|
|№5||Keep a salt block available for the horse. Salt or mineral blocks help balance deficiencies in the feed and increase horses desire to drink water.|
|№6||Allow 2 hours after eating for digestion before exercise and never feed immediately after work. An hour recovery is minimum.|
|№7||Introduce new feeds to a horse gradually over at least a week. Never make a sudden change in a horses diet.|
|№8||Do not leave uneaten feed in the feeder or stall. If the horse is not finishing his food he is being overfed or is ill.|
|№9||Always have a fresh supply of water available. Horses that dunk their hay are SMART. It keeps them from ingesting a lot of dust and makes the hay more pallatable. But make sure to clean out their water containers every day.|
|№10||Have teeth checked regularly and worm horses regularly.|
|№11||Succulents such as apples and carrots are a great addition to the diet or as a snack.|