Caring for your horse is no small task, but we’re here to talk about what iFEED knows best: the basics of feeding your horse. Know what to feed your horse, when to feed, and how to best feed your horse. Even experienced horse owners can learn a thing or two by going back to the beginning!
1. Give lots of roughage.
The bulk of a horse’s calories should always come from roughage, such as good-quality hay and pasture. Grain should only be a supplement to this diet. A horse’s digestive system is designed to eat roughage, approximately 1% to 2% of their body weight each day.
2. Feed grain in frequent little amounts.
The iFEED system is designed to help with this part of your horse’s diet. Feeding your horse in one or two large meals a day may be convenient for you, but it could negatively affect your horse’s digestive system. Smaller and more frequent meals mimic the natural grazing of your horse and help with better digestion.
3. Always assess your horse’s needs first.
The two main factors affecting your horse’s diet is their size and the amount of work they perform daily. Additionally, always try and balance the amount of hay and pasture your horse receives. Hay may be unnecessary if your horse is grazing all day. For grain, begin with a minimum and adjust it upwards for best results. Remember to adjust the food intake when your horse’s workload changes too.
4. Make changes slowly.
Changes in feeding rations should be made in small increments. Remember that large changes could result in colic or founder. If you are simply switching to a new type of feed, this change should remain gradual as well. For best results, switch amounts over the course of several weeks if possible.
5. Be accurate and consistent.
Always maintain consistency and accuracy when measuring your horse’s feed. Make sure you and your hands know the weight of the hay and feed, so your horse is receiving a consistent amount each day. Try using a weight until you know the accurate amount to feed.
6. Leave time for digestion.
Feeding your horse right before or right after exercise could make work more strenuous for them. Specifically a full belly could push on their lungs and make breathing difficult. Additionally, since blow flows away from the digestive organs, the risk of colic could increase.
7. Keep it regular.
Sticking to a daily routine will keep your horse happy. They have natural time clocks that are much more accurate than ours, so feeding them regularly will help with digestion. Horses that are prone to colic could experience an episode after a sudden shift in routine.
These are just the basics of feeding your horse. Make sure to always consult a veterinarian or other professional for specific advice on feeding your horses. Stay healthy!