Equine Nutrition

Feeding your horse on the cheap

In a time of financial crisis, it might be difficult to feed your horse. However, I also believe that there is enough cheap alternative not to let a horse starve. So I thought I’ll see if I can come up with some cheap options. Of course, the best option would be to have a good doer who can live on the smell of an oil rag like my Lily, but it is not always the case!   First of all, let us review some fundamental facts of equine nutrition:

  • A horse at rest consumes about 2% of his body weight to survive. This means that a 600kg horse eats 12kg of food a day. This includes forage, pasture and hard feed.
  • A horse in its natural environment will graze around 20 hours a day
  • Horses should have constant access to forage. If stabled, provide hay in slow feeders or slow feed hay nets
  • The amount of food a horse needs is linked to its activity level, its age and its environment. This means that higher levels of exercise require more food to fuel its energy.
  • The amount of concentrates (grains, pellets, bran etc) in a ration must be matched with an equal volume of chaff
  • If feeding grains, a maximum of 0.5 kg of body weight can be given a day and should be divided into multiple meals. For example, a 500kg horse should not be given more than 2.5 kg of grains per day
  • The main feed source of horses is grass, therefore the main ingredient in their diet should be forage in the form of hay, grass etc.
  • In general, Thoroughbreds are hard to keep in condition and no matter how good the grass is, they are likely to require extra feed
  • Unless the pasture has been improved, it is likely that it will not provide enough nutrients to the horse (especially if you have one like the above)
  • Plenty of fresh water must be provided at all time. Horses, depending on their breed, weight, weather and activity, drink between 20-50 litres/day
  • Horses fed dry hay and grain will drink, on average, 3 litres of water per kilo of hay.
  • Always provide free access to salt