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10 Golden Rules of Horse Feeding
 By Winniefield Park   •   3rd Jun 2017   •   1,639 views   •   0 comments
10 Golden Rules of Horse Feeding

Only the Best
When selecting your horseís feed, itís essential to feed only the best concentrates such as grain and forage such as hay. Even pasture needs to be monitored so the grass supports good health. Some pastures look green in lush, but theyíre lush with weeds rather than the nutritious grass your horse needs. Hay should be as green as possible with little dust and no mold. Even concentrates can mold in hot weather, so care has to be taken when storing them. And of course, anything out of a bag needs to be dust free and made for horses. No substituting feed for other livestock as that could be deadly.

Read the Feed Bag
When it comes to concentrates like sweet feed, performance horse and seniors blends and growth formulas itís important to know what youíre feeding and how much your horse should be getting. Over feeding could result in an obese horse or one with too much energy to burn. Overfeeding youngsters can lead to joint damage. Underfeeding of course, isnít healthy either. Read the feed bag so you know the recommended amounts to feed. These will usually be expressed by weight - so get out a kitchen scale and weigh your feed, rather than just eyeing it up.

Feed By Size, Activity Level, and Temperature
Knowing how much your horse weighs is important when it comes to feeding both hay and concentrates. Your horse needs to eat about 2.5% to 3% of its body weight in hay each day. If itís very cold or your horse is working hard youíll need to calculate its needs along with its weight. Thereís a number of ways to weigh your horse. Most accurate is livestock scale, but unless your horse visits a large animal vet clinic or auction barn you probably donít have access to one of these. You can buy a weight tape to measure around the horseís barrel but these arenít terribly accurate. You can also use a measuring tape and use the formula girth x girth x body length ų 300 = Horseís weight.

Feed Small Amounts
A horseís digestive system is very long, and they have very small stomachs. That means that they can only eat small amounts at a time. A horseís stomach can only hold somewhere slightly less than 2 gallons (15 liters) depending on the size of the horse. To avoid colic, and ensure the feed is digested properly, itís recommended that no more than about 3 lbs (1.5kg) be feed at any individual feeding.

Feed Often
Because they have a long slow, digestive system itís best if a horse is fed often, that way the gut doesnít get overloaded. Standing with an empty belly isnít good for a horse and could contribute to ulcers.

Make Changes Slowly
Sudden changes in feeds could upset your horseís relatively delicate digestive system. When changing feeds, blend one into the other gradually, so the horse has time to get used to the new food.

Always Supply Clean Water
Water isnít thought of as food, but itís essential to the digestion process. A dehydrated horse canít process itís feed properly. Impaction colic and malnutrition, along with dehydration that affects all of its bodily function can be the result of not supplying enough water.

Keep a Schedule
Like us, horses like to keep schedules, especially when it comes to when they eat. An erratic schedule could mean your horse will be chewing down its stall door or pacing the fence line with impatience. Keeping a schedule just keeps everyone happier and calmer.

Be Prepared to Make Adjustments
Always assess your horseís condition and energy level. Then, if you noticed your eventer is a bit sluggish on the long hauls, you can add a bit more energy. But if youíre weekend trail horse is a too go-y, youíll know itís time to cut back on the high octane food. Workload, season, age and growth all change and your feeding amounts will have to change too.

Fiber First
Your horse should always be eating more fiber than concentrates. Grass is your horseís natural diet, and ideally should be its primary source of nutrition. Second to that would be good quality hay. The fiber contained in these food sources is essential for healthy nutrition. 1.5% of body weight is the average amount of hay your horse should be eating. This is harder to calculate when it comes to grass. So, horses on pasture need to be watched to ensure they are in good condition. If they lose condition, extra hay is the best feed to offer, followed by a concentrate if necessary.
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