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Equine Eats: The Horse Owner’s Guide To Nutrition

August 4, 2014

Getting the nitty-gritties spot-on when feeding your spirited horse will go a long way in maintaining their health and well-being. It’s tricky to know the ins and outs, especially if you’re new to horse ownership – but with the help of our quick and easy guide to nutrition, you can make sure that your horse stays in top health!

horse nutrition guide

Horse Nutrition

Your horse’s nutritional needs depend on their age, health requirements and activity levels which change all the time! Legume hay (alfalfa and clover), grass hay (timothy, orchard and brome) and cereal grain hay (oats, barley, wheat and rye) are absolutely ideal foods for your horse.

It’s worth knowing that each type of hay has different nutritional values with its own pros and cons. Legume hay is the most nutritious due to its high energy and nutritional value – they contain high levels of protein, calcium and vitamins. Unfortunately, the high protein content is not suitable for some horses with allergies or laminitis and can aggravate heat exhaustion and excessive sweating. Grass hay is not as nutritious, but is safer for your horse to eat, especially for senior horses as the lower protein content is easier on their kidneys. Cereal grain hay (un-harvested grain) has similar nutritional values as grass hay, but loses the nutrition if it’s harvested in a way that removes its seed heads. It also has a higher concentration of nitrates which are not appropriate for some horses.

Food Quantity

It’s easy enough knowing what to feed your horse, but the hard part is figuring out how much to give them. As a guideline, you should multiply your horse’s weight by 0.03 to calculate how many pounds of feed that your horse will require daily – and you should feed them twice a day as a minimum. If your horse weighs 1200 pounds, then your horse needs approximately 36 pounds of food daily. It’s may be easier to give them half of what they need daily, at each feeding time. This is just a rough guide, however, and the amount of food your horse requires will also depend on its level of physical activity and the type of horse it is.

horse hay

You can of course, adjust how much to feed them depending on their weight and how long it takes them to finish eating. It’s obvious really, but worth pointing out if there’s weight gain, reduce the amount given; if there’s weight loss, increase the amount and check your horses teeth or look for parasites as these can affect appetites. Typically, horses finish eating within 1.5 – 2 hours; if your horse ate it all in less than an hour, chances are they’re still hungry and if your horse takes over 2 hours to eat it all – you’re giving too much.

If you stick to this guide, you should have one very healthy and happy horse, making feeding time a breeze!
While owning a horse can be incredibly rewarding, it can also get pretty expensive – but luckily for you, Pegasus Finance can help. We’re specialists in all things equine and horse transportation, working with dealers and lenders to find you the best deals on finance for buying a horse and horsebox finance. Already got a price in mind? Try our quick and easy horsebox finance calculator for an instant quote.

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