November 1, 2002, Newsletter Issue #97: November--Equine Diets

Tip of the Week

The Rules of Proper Feeding

1. Clean and fresh water available at all times.

2. Feed smaller amounts, feed more frequently.

3. Feed according to the type of work, the temperment and the present condition of the horse.

4. Feed at the same time each and every day.

5. Do not work immediately after feeding.

6. Feed sufficient roughage daily.

7. Change food very gradually.

8. Choose only clean and good quality feed.

9. Feed succulents every day.

1. Clean and fresh water administered at least twice per day. Horses should drink between 6 and 12 gallons of water every day, or at least one half to one and a half gallons per hundred pounds of weight. Horses will increase intake depending upon feed content, and percentage of roughage. In the winter, horses may not drink as much, as they will and need in the summer.

2. By feeding smaller quantities often, it is easier for a horse`s digestion. A horse`s stomach is only approximately 3 gallons in size. This rule is necessary to follow if the horses are turned out in a group, or left out on pasture, or at large. Rule of thumb is that horses must have feed within 8 hour intervals, unless they are left out on pasture.

3. Type of Work: As work increases, so must the concentrates of the diet; as work decreases, so must the concentrates of the feed. The concentrates must fluctuate with the work or exercise to increase energy and ability to develop muscle as is needed.

Temperment: All horses are individual in their consumption and processing of their feed. It is necessary therefore to adjust diet according to a particular horse. Some feeds will cause too much of an energy increase in one horse, while yet another horse will be unaffected by the same diet. You only want the energy content of a horse`s diet to produce sufficient energy to maintain weight and necesary level of energy to enable a horse to work as long as is required without tiring. A horse that is sluggish or lazy will generally require more energy from feed than will a horse that is hyper or quick to respond. The hyper horse will generally require more support from roughage or from supplements to maintain condition.

Condition: No matter the living conditions, every horse should be in good to excellent condition. If not, generally speaking adjustment of the diet will change the condition of the horse. The feed, weight, age, type, breeding stock, climate, type of housing--whether individual or group, inside or outside, illness, teeth, worms, stable vices will all affect the individual horse`s condition; and these are all factors that must be considered in determining the best diet for the specific horse. Every horse`s diet will be determined by the Rule of Thumb, each horse should be given two and a half times his body weight in grain and roughage. Grain taking one third of the total consumption. Any horse that is on regular and medium work level should be in great condition by following these rules of thumb.

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