10 Rules of Feeding Horses
Know what you are feeding, take a critical look at the ration, expand your knowledge. If in doubt, always consult an expert! Horses that spend a lot of time in stables don`t graze much, but their natural eating habits can be replicated by having hay in front of them for most of the day. They can nibble it for a while, take a break and sleep for a while, and then come back to it, constantly moving roughage through their systems. This ensures that you know what you are feeding your horse. Worms are a known problem in horses and can have a negative impact on the horse`s health. Horses with worms can lose weight because the food is not absorbed properly. Regular deworming and alternating worm products can help prevent worms from developing resistance. By performing a manure test, the best deworming method for your horse can be determined. Horses thrive in routine, and their incredibly accurate internal clocks make them much better timepieces than their human caregivers. Horses should be kept according to a consistent feeding schedule, with meals arriving at the same time each day. Most horses are not injured by a sudden change in schedule, but for horses prone to colic, a sudden change in routine can be more than a nuisance and could be enough to trigger a colike episode.
Start by measuring your horse`s diet by weight with a kitchen or mail scale, or use the scale at your local food store. Once you have determined the weight of your horse`s typical ration, measure this part at the time of feeding with a shovel, a can of coffee or anything that suits your needs. It is better to feed a horse by weight and not by volume. This means that you need to feed them with the right amounts of food. Weigh each spoon individually for the different types of food you can use. Feed your horses with feed concentrates. Feeding a horse is best done little and often, and not in large, oversized meals. Maintain the health and vitality of your horses by following these best practices for feeding management.
If you had been a crazy pony kid like me in the 80s, you would definitely have known these rules for feeding your pony by heart. Whether you`re at the Pony Club or just devoured Horse and Pony magazine, this information was everywhere. Thirty years later and horses no longer seem to be fed this way, many owners are not aware of these rules – so are they still useful? Is this information still correct and relevant for 2019? 10 RULES FOR FEEDING A HORSE: What are the ten golden rules for feeding horses? On average, a horse consumes 8 to 12 gallons or more of water per day. Clean, fresh water must be available at all times, especially before and after feeding. Horses that exercise should be offered water immediately after work, but the amount they drink at the same time should be limited until the animal has cooled. The horse has a relatively small stomach (about the size of a beach ball) and has a capacity of 6-8 liters. It is very easy to overload the stomach, which can have negative consequences for later parts of the digestive system. If your horse needs concentrated feed (which the vast majority of recreational horses do not have), it is imperative that this be divided into several small meals. A ball of cubes can weigh up to 2 kg, do you weigh food? How much do you feed at the same time? The horse is a runoff eater, it is designed to graze and eat for 16-18 hours a day. We keep horses in a completely different environment, but their digestive system remains the same.
The horse must chew to produce saliva, and it is this regular production of saliva that protects the stomach from acid splashes. Saliva has a buffering effect that increases the pH of this acidic part of the digestive system. Minimize food spoilage and contamination by storing it properly. Store hay in a covered, dry area that is kept away from moisture that can cause toxic mold to grow. Store grains and other concentrates in a safe place that keeps rodents, insects and migratory horses away. Keep all foods and supplements away from chemicals and detergents. Implement rodent control practices to reduce the spread of disease. The average thousand-pound horse, which depends on hay for all its food, usually eats fifteen to twenty pounds of hay a day. Most of the hay is delivered in flakes; However, the amount of hay in a flake can vary greatly, depending on the size of the flake and the type of hay. If you don`t know how much hay bales you feed weigh, you can use a bathroom scale to check and then feed the part of a ball your horse needs. A horse`s appetite ranges from 1.5% to 3.5% of its body weight when left to fend for itself and fed ad libitum. In terms of calculating the amount of food you need to give your horse each day, the general instruction is 2% of its body weight, which is 10 kg for a horse weighing 500 kg.
It is important to know that the 10 kg is the amount of dry matter that the horse eats, that is, the amount of food minus the water content. For example, grass hay contains about 15% water and 85% dry matter, while fresh grass contains about 80% water and 20% dry matter. So if you only fed your 500 kg of horse hay, you would provide 11.8 kg of so-called fresh substance to cover the dry matter needs of 10 kg (10 divided by 0.85). Your horse`s condition is also important, and we assess it through the Body Condition Score (BCS), which essentially measures fat accumulation in horses. This is done with a BCS scale and the one I use is the 1 to 9 point scale, which measures the disposition of fat on 6 areas of the horse`s body and uses a scale of 1 to 9 to rate each area. This would be a rule that the modern recreational horse probably does not need. Succulents like apples and carrots can be high in sugar, and with more and more obese and laminitic horses and ponies, reducing sugar intake is paramount. While either carrot doesn`t hurt your horse, I think owners often feed too many treats.
Another reason for feeding little and often refers to the fact that horses produce saliva only as a direct result of chewing, which means that the amount of saliva produced is proportional to the amount of chewing. Saliva is extremely important for maintaining a healthy stomach (see the article on stomach health) and therefore it is very important that horses have almost continuous access to food or pasture and are not fasting for more than 3 hours at a time. From a welfare perspective, horses are instinctively motivated to chew, and if left without food for a long time, this can lead to stress and the possible development of stereotypical behaviors such as biting the cradle. Learning the basics of horse nutrition and how to make healthy food is crucial. This is especially true if you own horses or want to maintain the health of your horse companion. Horses are like humans when it comes to a daily routine and habit. Therefore, it is better to feed the horses almost at the same time every day whenever possible. If you feed your horse grain, give it in several small meals and not in bulk. Most horses are given grain twice a day for the convenience of their human caregivers.
If for some reason you need to give your horse a large amount of cereal, you should consider additional feeding for lunch. Frequent small meals are not only more natural for the horse, but also allow the horse to better digest and use its food. If a horse is overfed at a time, the food is not digested as efficiently. Feeding small meals ensures that a horse can better absorb nutrients before the feed enters the hind intestine for fermentation. If a horse consumes more than 0.75% of its body weight in concentrate per day, the concentrate should be divided into at least two equal meals. For an average horse of 1,100 pounds, anything over 8 pounds per day should be divided into at least two meals, although feeding several small meals can be even more beneficial. Perhaps the most important of the 10 rules for feeding horses and ponies is the use of high-quality feed. Avoid the temptation to give your horse moldy or dusty old food. It takes at least 2 weeks to safely change the grain of a horse. When changing the food, first replace a small amount of new foods with the existing food (based on weight). Gradually increase the proportion of the new food until it is the only one available.
To increase (or decrease) the amount of food offered, adjust the amount from 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 pounds per feeding per day so that there are 1 or 2 days between increases. If you bring horses to pasture, limit grazing to 2 hours a day, and then gradually increase the grazing time. Horses need access to fresh, clean water and it should be available at all times. Remember to keep all containers clean and safe when using them to store water for horses. A good understanding of horse nutrition is essential to ensure that your horses stay in top shape all year round, so it`s important that every horse owner knows the golden rules of feeding. These basic rules can be applied to any horse and help maintain health and avoid problems associated with poor horse nutrition. 1. Provide access to fresh, clean water at all times. The container of water, whether it is a drinker or a bucket, must also be kept clean.
In a cool climate, the average horse drinks about 18 liters per day (just under five gallons). This can increase to more than double this amount if the horse works hard in a hot environment. 2. Feed by weight and not by volume. To make sure you`re feeding the right amounts, you need to weigh a spoon of each type of food you use.