Feeding Your Horse

Date Published: 10/10/2005
Date Reviewed/Revised: 02/09/2015

An important question I ask every horse owner when doing a wellness exam on each horse is what are you feeding and how much. I usually get a good answer on what they are feeding but how much is a different story. The most common answer I hear, for example, is that they are giving one can or two scoops twice a day. Of course the concern is that a can or scoop tells the veterinarian nothing because we do not know how much the can or scoop actually holds. Plus, different feeds vary in weight, so even if you weigh a scoop of one feed, if you change feeds you need to weigh the new feed.

Weighing is important because current recommendations are never to feed over 5 pounds of grain at one feeding. Many folks do this and do not realize it. It has been shown that feeding more than 5 pounds at each feeding increases the chance of colic. Also, it is important for your vet to know how many pounds you are feeding if your horse is too fat or too thin. This will help your vet when making recommendations for feeding. If your horse is too thin and you are already feeding 5 pounds of grain per feeding, then other options for weight gain should be considered. On the other hand, if your horse is thin and you are only feeding 2 pounds of grain per feeding, then you can safely increase the amount of grain.

Plus, all of the recommendations on the feed bags for how much to give are going to be in pounds per day. So if you do not know how many pounds of feed you are giving, take a bathroom scale with you to the barn and weigh your feed and scoop. And when your vet asks how much you are feeding, you will surprise them by being ready with an answer.

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