Horses are fed a lot differently compared to other animals. While cows and goats can graze anytime in the grasslands, horses have certain specifications when it comes to the type of feed they need and the feeding pattern. You probably heard some rules when handling a horse such as not approaching it from behind, giving it treats from the palm of your hand, and many more but horse feeding rules are a lot different from it all.
If you’re planning to start taking care of horses or just looking for more knowledge about proper horse care, here are the important tips you should keep in mind when feeding a horse.
Give More Roughage than Grain
Most horses don’t really need grain in their diet. They are meant to eat roughage which consists of fibrous material from the grass. Feeding your horse pasture and hay is definitely enough to meet their nutritional needs. Although you can add grain to their feed if you want, the majority of the feed should consist of roughage. The recommended amount of roughage a horse should eat every day is about 1 to 2 percent of its body weight.
Give Little Amounts of Grain
Horse caretakers find it convenient to feed their horses with grain as an addition when the hay stock is not enough. However, when supplementing with grain, be sure to give it in little amounts and more feedings. For instance, if your horse usually eats roughage twice a day, add 1 extra feeding when you’re giving grain.
Be Gradual When Switching Feeds and Feeding Schedules
When planning to change your horse’s feed and feeding schedule, be sure to do this gradually so that its digestive system can slowly adjust to the changes and won’t make your horse ill. For instance, if you want to change the horse feed, take 25% off from the current feed and replace it with the news feed. Let the horse adjust to this feed for a few days and increase the amount of new feed that you replace. It could take a few weeks to complete the switch into a new feed but your horse won’t experience colic or a founder with the sudden change.
Be Accurate in Measuring Feed
To be sure that your horse gets the adequate nutrition it needs, it is important that you feed it with accurate weight of feed that it needs. First, weigh your horse to know how much food it needs per day. Typically, the recommended amount of feed should be 1-2% of their body weight, given that they rely purely on hay or roughage. However, it also matters on the activity of your horse; more activity means more feed.
Cool Down Before Feeding
When feeding, give a cool down time before and after an activity. After feeding, wait for at least an hour before riding the horse. After an exercise, you should also wait for the horse’s body to cool down before feeding them. Their breathing should be normal and they shouldn’t be sweaty or hot anymore.
With proper feeding, you can be sure that your horse won’t experience any issues with its digestion.