Horse Feed

Proper horse feeding information

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Perhaps you've heard the expression "eats like a horse" to describe someone with a big appetite? Well, there's some truth behind the saying: it is estimated that horses eat between 2 and 3 percent of their body weight daily. But more important than quantity of horse feed is quality — it's vital that your horse receive the proper nutrients.

Equine nutrition can be as complex as human nutrition. A horse's ideal diet varies by age, physical condition, daily activities (does it pull loads or is it just for pleasure riding?) and even breed. However, there are some basic rules.

Horse Nutrition

At least three-quarters of your horse's diet should be forage, meaning hay, of which there are two varieties: grass (such as Timothy, orchard) or legumes (like clover or alfalfa). Whichever you prefer, make sure it is fresh — moldy hay can cause severe health problems.

Another important part of a horse's diet is grains, which are higher in energy and lower in fiber than forage. Popular grains include oats, barley and corn. Of the three, corn has the most energy content by far, while oats are the easiest to digest and usually don't require processing.

Processed types of horse feed are available from many pet food companies, but keep in mind that horses' bodies are designed to run optimally on natural food like grasses and grains. For senior horses or foals, however, a processed horse food could help guarantee proper amounts of important minerals.

Horse Feed Supplements

Not every horse needs nutritional supplements. If your horse is healthy and used mostly for riding, it shouldn't need special dietary enhancements. However, if your horse performs regular, hard work or is expecting or nursing a foal, you might consider adding horse supplements to its diet.

Also, keep in mind that nutrients in forage come from the soil in which the plants are grown, so if you live in an area with nutrient-deficient soil, your hay is probably lacking important nutrients that should be supplemented.

Five minerals are commonly added to horse feed: calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur and salt. To make this part of horse feeding easy, salt blocks can be enhanced with the other minerals. A bonus to salt licks is that horses will only lick them when they need to, so there's no need to worry about overconsumption.

Posted by Caitlin on October 11,2012 at 06:38 PM
I can start if you like. Baja the horse you see in the picture is a dear fernid of mine. He is the laugh at the parrty in the kids camp. He is always having fun and wanting to play. When it comes to the finger painting he gets serious. He holds still for the kids to put their designs on him so that they can be proud of their work, Baja knows this is an honor to be painted by them and he holds as still as he can for them. I love him very much and he is dieing, I won't have him with me here much longer, he has cancer. He is teaching me a lesson, love each day as it were your last, and enjoy the little things in life, They might make the difference that some one needs, He inspires me, and so does my other horse Willy who has over come the odds. They are my teachers and I never forget to be thankful for them touching my life. They make me try harder and never give up. Same as my first horse Digalow.
Posted by anna on November 06,2010 at 08:38 AM
Ive got a 13 yr old arabian gelding and am trying to figure out just what to feed him. Ive got him on rolled oats but have been hearing that can cause problems. Ive heard about Purina Senior but am not sure about it. could sombody please help me help my horse! thanks
Posted by anna on November 06,2010 at 08:39 AM
you can contact me at thanks!
Posted by Dakota35 on October 25,2009 at 08:17 PM
melissa, how long has your horse been foaming at the mouth? did it just start? if so when did you put him in the field? i would take him out and put him in a grass field without clover Amy
Posted by Melissa Dexter on August 01,2009 at 09:29 PM
My horse has been on a new feild with lots of clover for about a week. Today I noticed that he was foaming a HUGE amount. Could it be from over eating on the clover?
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