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How Much Should I Feed My Horse?

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How Much Should I Feed My Horse?

Postby Edur » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:39 pm

I just got my horse from Germany, and she is great, but I noticed she has gained a bit of a belly since she has been here for 2 weeks, it may just be my hunch, I took a weight tape of her and the first I took was 1 week in and she was 845 pounds then 4 days later I took another measurement and she was 910? She definitly looked leaner when she came and in the pictures of her before she came. I am feeding her the same amount and kind of grain they fed her, which I will probably keep, but I am giving her so much hay because she seems so hungry! She like gobbles up her grain in big bites, and winnies for more food, I don't want to make her hungry but I want to keep her lean and fit as well! I am giving her like 7 flakes in the morning and 7 flakes at night, so its not like I am holding back but when I cut it back to 4 flakes she seems hungrier. She probably has a really fast metabolism because my pony only ate 3 flakes morning and night and no grain, haha. I will continue to check her weight tape, but I don't want her eating the shrubby grass in her paddock because its not healthy looking. I gave her 8 flakes this morning, haha she eats so much, I am sure I am going to get nasty comments being like dont starve your horse, but she is a fancy horse and I don't want her looking chubby! haha, whatever
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How Much Should I Feed My Horse?

Postby Hrychleah » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:45 pm

The stress of relocating can bring on digestive upsets that result in maldigestion of food and malabsorption of nutrients even when the same diet is fed, which could be part of the cause for the distended belly.

I provide good quality home grown grass mix hay 24/7 to my horses fed on rubber mats 24/7 in the run in shelter.
They also have 24/7 access to pastures unless I need to keep them in the dry lot for some reason, and are fed pelleted feed in bowls on the mats as needed.
Unless a horse has a disorder of carbohydrate and fat metabolism with a tendency to obesity, you seldom need to limit the amount of quality forage available, especially if the horse is able to be out and about exercising throughout the day and night.

Your horse should always have access to clean, fresh drinking water and a white salt (sodium chloride) block 24/7 in addition to her forage and feed.

Hay consumption should be measured by weight.
Hay can be baled densely packed or be very loosely baled.
A flake from one bale may weigh half as much as a flake from another bale, so the number of flakes you are feeding means nothing without knowing their weight..

You have to actually weigh a flake of the specific hay to accurately determine its weight.
Then you can multiply the number of flakes consumed daily to get the overall number of pounds being consumed.

Most average horses need to consume at least 2% to 2.5% of their own body weight in forage and feed daily, depending on each horse's individual metabolism, daily workload, quality of feed consumed, and other factors like health issues or weather.
It will take more quantity of a poor quality hay or feed to provide the same nutrient amount as a smaller quantity of a high quality hay or feed provides.

If the hay you are feeding is late cut, stalky and over-mature, it will be difficult to digest and lack nutrient value.
Not only will your horse need to eat more of it to get the nutrients she needs, but her belly will bloat from the excessive gases produced as the less digestible fiber is fermented longer.

A 1000 lb horse should be consuming a total ration of 20 to 25 pounds of forage and feed daily.
Of that total ration, a bare minimum of 1 to 1.5% of the horse's body weight (10 to 15 pounds) should come from good quality long stem fiber forage (grasses, legumes, or grass or legume hays), in order to maintain optimum salivation, digestion , and gut motility.
It is always best for horses to obtain the majority of their nutrients from forages, and only be fed concentrated feeds if needed due to deficiencies in the hay or pasture or to meet high demands for horses performing heavy workloads.

I would buy an inexpensive hanging scale (like used for weighing fish) and bag and weigh a flake of the hay so you have an accurate idea of the weight he is consuming.

If the hay is of low quality, I'd replace it with better quality hay, or with good quality commercially prepared chopped or cubed hay like chopped Timothy grass hay or alfalfa cubes.

Just don't overdo the alfalfa, as it is a legume hay and too high in protein and calcium to be fed on its own.
About 25% alfalfa to 75% grass hay is typically ideal.

If bloating is the issue, then you should see the belly shrink fairly soon after this change takes place, provided that there are no other issues such as parasite infestations that need to be treated by deworming.
A manure sample can be obtained to perform fecal egg counts (FECs) and the equine vet can help you to design a good deworming program based on results, and other factors including your horse's lifestyle and local environmental considerations.

I wouldn't add any concentrated feeds to her diet until you have the quality and weight of her forage intake worked out.
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How Much Should I Feed My Horse?

Postby Bryggere » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:48 pm

wow~! I am glad I asked! I really had no idea, cause my ponies never seemed that hungry when I was giving them hay, I just assumed she was bred in germany with a high metabolism! haha, but isn't there such thing as free choice hay? and some horses are turned out to pasture on grass 24/7 and they do fine, they learn to regulate themselves. but is hay a higher calorie content or something? I am defnitinely only going to give her 1 or 2 flakes morning and night I am glad she hasnt coliced or foundered! no wonder she was getting a tummy, I knew I wasn't seeing things. The old owner didn't even really give me feeding instructions so I have had to figure it out on my own, but I am giving her 1 1/2 quarts oats and 1 1/2 quarts nutrena high performance feed, I am lowering it to 1 quart and 1 quart which I think is more like it since she isn't being worked that hard, I don't even know if horses need grain or not, she is hot and spooky, so maybe if I cut down her grain she
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How Much Should I Feed My Horse?

Postby Colbert » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:50 pm

If i gave all my horses 8 flakes of hay a day...i wouldnt be able to afford them!

i go through 1 1/2 square bales of hay a day, and thats for 7 horses.

Lower the amount of Hay, you wont be starving her.
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How Much Should I Feed My Horse?

Postby Dell » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:51 pm

Wow that a ton of hay I do professional rodeo and my horses are pushed and rode every day they get one flake in the morning and one in the evening. seven flakes is way to much your gonna make her founder1
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How Much Should I Feed My Horse?

Postby Haley » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:56 pm

Donkeys are not horses. They're going to founder so much quicker than horses. Horses do not devour barley straw the place as it is needed for donkeys. Do not feed donkeys sweet feed! You're watching for problems. Do some high-quality research.
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How Much Should I Feed My Horse?

Postby Xiao » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:05 pm

EIGHT FLAKES?! My horse gets one, sometimes two and we barley have any grass in our fields.

You're definitely over feeding her - she's not hungry she's greedy!!

I recommend reducing the hay steadily so you eventually don't give her more than three flakes at a time (6 a day)

How long does it take you to finish a bale?! Not only is she getting fat, but you're also wasting money!

I understand that you care for her greatly, and that you have her best interests at heart, but please cut down her hay. You can give her a bit more in the winter when there's less grass, but she will risk getting laminitis or a whole host of illnesses unless you stop!

You could also gradually reduce her food in the bucket too ;)
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