How Much Should I Feed My Horse?
To answer the question ‘How much you should I feed my horse?’ you first need to establish both his bodyweight and workload. Bodyweight is relatively easy to establish by using a weigh tape or weigh bridge – click here to learn how to weigh tape your horse. The part that some people find confusing is to accurately assess how hard the horse is working. The following tips should help:
- Workload categories are maintenance/rest, light, moderate, hard and heavy/intense
- Your horse’s workload is relative to the whole population of horses not just their own – for example, he might be in hard work compared to what you normally do, but he isn’t in hard work when compared to a racehorse.
- This means that most horses and ponies kept for hacking or riding club level competitions are in maintenance or light work categories
- Regularly competing in affiliated competitions and the travelling and training associated with this level of performance is usually moderate work
- Lower levels of three day events, lower levels of polo, hunting one or two times a week is hard work
- Racing, higher levels of polo, 3* and 4* three day events is heavy/intense work
Feeding rates are usually given on the packaging or websites according to workload as this level of feed will provide the essential nutrients required for the work. Nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals are required at different levels as workloads change and it is these variations that the recommended feeding rates allow for. The individual horse’s energy requirements show more variation as factors like temperament, breed and type affect how much and what type of energy the horse requires. For example a fat horse and a thin horse both need essential vitamins and minerals for the level of work they are doing but their energy requirements are very different.
Weights and Measures:
- Always read the feeding advice printed on the product packaging
- Weigh out your horse or pony’s feed – never guess! When nutritionists formulate a feed, they make sure that the correct levels of vitamins and minerals are present in a given ration to provide a balanced diet
- If you give your horse less feed than is recommended for his weight and workload, he will miss out on essential nutrients
- You can have too much of a good thing – over-feeding vitamins and minerals can cause toxicity problems
- Chopped fibre feeds, such as those offered by Dengie can be fed in larger amounts as they are low in starch and sugar and are high fibre. This means they won’t overload the digestive system as cereal based feeds can
- Fibre is lightweight and a large Stubbs scoop of chopped fibre feed weighs around 400g, but the same size scoop of Cool Mix would be about 1.25kg
- To get the same weight of feed, three times more volume of fibre would have to be given. The bonus with this is that it gives far more chew time, keeps horses occupied when stabled and helps to maintain healthy digestive systems. A 20kg bag of fibre will last just as long as the mix if fed at the same weights; it’s just the volume that is different
If you would like help working out a ration for your horse don’t hesitate to contact the Dengie Feedline team on 0845 345 5115. Calls to the Dengie Feedline cost 2p from a landline or 2.5p from a mobile, plus your phone company’s access charge. Alternatively, click here to submit an enquiry form to our nutrition team.